29 May 2013

British forces are detaining dozens in Afghanistan

Philip Hammond, the British defence secretary, has confirmed that dozens of people are being detained by British forces at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan following allegations that the army is running a secret detention facility at the base.

Philip Hammond

Hammond said 80 or 90 people were being held at the site. He said many of them posed a danger to British troops, and reiterated that they could not yet be handed over to Afghan authorities because of concerns that they would be mistreated.

UK lawyers acting for eight of the men, some of whom they say have been held for up to 14 months without charge, have launched habeas corpus applications in the UK high court in a bid to free them, raising comparisons with the outrage over the Guant√°namo Bay prison camp.

The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) rules dictate that British forces are only allowed to hold suspects for 96 hours. But in November last year, Hammond halted plans to hand suspected insurgents captured by British troops to Afghan security forces on the grounds they risked being abused and tortured.

The Guardian