Afghanistan — Media Shoots Imagery at Afghan Detention Facility

PARWAN, Afghanistan, Aug. 30, 2010 — News media rep­re­sen­ta­tives were per­mit­ted to take video and still pho­tos Aug. 27 at the deten­tion facil­i­ty here for the first time since it became oper­a­tional in Decem­ber 2009.

An Afghan guard and a U.S. Army soldier work together at the detention facility in Parwan, Afghanistan
An Afghan guard and a U.S. Army sol­dier work togeth­er at the deten­tion facil­i­ty in Par­wan, Afghanistan, Aug. 23, 2010. On Aug. 27, 2010, news media rep­re­sen­ta­tives were per­mit­ted to take video and still pho­tos at the facil­i­ty for the first time since it became oper­a­tional in Decem­ber 2009.
DoD pho­to by U.S. Air Force Mas­ter Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Click to enlarge

Coali­tion and Afghan mil­i­tary and civil­ian lead­ers, news media and human rights orga­ni­za­tions have pre­vi­ous­ly toured the facil­i­ty but had nev­er been per­mit­ted to shoot pho­tos and record video because of a Defense Depart­ment pol­i­cy, which recent­ly changed.

“The change in the doc­u­men­ta­tion pol­i­cy enables a lev­el of trans­paren­cy that did not pre­vi­ous­ly exist, coun­ter­ing neg­a­tive per­cep­tions with truth­ful, accu­rate images,” said Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Har­ward, Joint Task Force 435’s com­man­der. The admi­ral has com­mand, con­trol, over­sight and respon­si­bil­i­ty for U.S. deten­tion and cor­rec­tion oper­a­tions in Afghanistan.

“Joint Task Force 435 is proud of the facil­i­ty and the impor­tant mis­sion our peo­ple arere­spon­si­ble for doing every day,” Har­ward said. “We are com­mit­ted to trans­paren­cy at all lev­els of the deten­tion oper­a­tions mis­sion and wel­come the oppor­tu­ni­ty to show that we are con­duct­ing oper­a­tions in accor­dance with inter­na­tion­al law and pro­vid­ing appro­pri­ate treat­ment and care to all detainees.”

The Par­wan facil­i­ty will tran­si­tion to the Afghans begin­ning Jan­u­ary 2011.

Some restric­tions on pho­tog­ra­phy and videog­ra­phy remain, offi­cials said, due to secu­ri­ty or safe­ty con­sid­er­a­tions. These restric­tions, they added, are in place to pro­tect detainees, the facil­i­ty and its per­son­nel by not reveal­ing secu­ri­ty mea­sures or pro­ce­dures. Pho­tos or video in which detainees are rec­og­niz­able are not autho­rized and are delet­ed as part of the secu­ri­ty review.

“I am excep­tion­al­ly proud of the work this task force does every day, pro­vid­ing humane, respect­ful care to those in our cus­tody,” Har­ward said. “I wel­come this oppor­tu­ni­ty to show what it is real­ly like inside the deten­tion facil­i­ty in Par­wan. These truth­ful, accu­rate images of our oper­a­tions help to mit­i­gate false accu­sa­tions and per­cep­tions that may oth­er­wise fuel the insur­gent cause.”

The deten­tion facility’s design allows for safe, humane and effec­tive man­age­ment of the pop­u­la­tion, and allows will­ing detainees to par­tic­i­pate in group activ­i­ties and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams, offi­cials said. It is equipped with mod­ern med­ical facil­i­ties, an on-site fam­i­ly vis­i­ta­tion area, video tele­con­fer­enc­ing capa­bil­i­ty, large recre­ation areas, voca­tion­al tech­ni­cal and edu­ca­tion class­rooms, and addi­tion­al space to con­duct legal pro­ceed­ings.

The deten­tion facil­i­ty was com­plet­ed in Sep­tem­ber 2009 and became ful­ly oper­a­tional in late Decem­ber 2009. The facility’s design accom­mo­dates detainee rein­te­gra­tion efforts and enables JTF 435 to bet­ter align detainee oper­a­tions with the over­all strat­e­gy to defeat the extrem­ist insur­gency in Afghanistan.

The facil­i­ty cur­rent­ly is designed to house about 1,300 detainees.

Three addi­tion­al detainee hous­ing units are being con­struct­ed, with an expect­ed deliv­ery date of March 2011. These units will be com­plete­ly staffed and man­aged by Afghan author­i­ties and will increase the over­all capac­i­ty of the Par­wan facil­i­ty by near­ly 1,000.

The facil­i­ty is oper­at­ed by more than 1,200 pro­fes­sion­als from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with trained guards, expert med­ical per­son­nel and legal sup­port. More than 700 Afghan Nation­al Army mil­i­tary police sol­diers are cur­rent­ly train­ing to aug­ment the guard force and more than 100 are ful­ly trained and stand­ing guard duty inside the facil­i­ty with their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts. JTF 435 is active­ly part­ner­ing with Afghan forces in prepa­ra­tion for the respon­si­ble trans­fer of mil­i­tary deten­tion oper­a­tions to the Afghanistan gov­ern­ment .

Once trans­ferred, the deten­tion facil­i­ty will become part of a larg­er Afghan Jus­tice Cen­ter in Par­wan, which will become Afghanistan’s cen­tral loca­tion for the pre-tri­al deten­tion, pros­e­cu­tion and post-tri­al incar­cer­a­tion of nation­al secu­ri­ty sus­pects. This trans­fer is con­sis­tent with the mem­o­ran­dum of agree­ment signed by the per­ti­nent Afghan min­istries on Jan. 9.

Joint Task Force 435
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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