USA — Task Force Ensures Fair Detainee Treatment, Commander Says

WASHINGTON — The joint task force in charge of the new U.S. deten­tion facil­i­ty in Par­wan, Afghanistan, ensures that deten­tion process­es are fair and trans­par­ent – and that pub­lic per­cep­tion match­es that real­i­ty, the task force com­man­der said yes­ter­day.

“Our first focus was to ensure that the per­cep­tion of U.S. deten­tion oper­a­tions was in line with what we did,” Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Har­ward said dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon media brief­ing from Afghanistan’s cap­i­tal of Kab­ul. “We made all oper­a­tions open, trans­par­ent and inclu­sive. That’s through the whole detainee life cycle.” 

Joint Task Force 435 was estab­lished in Sep­tem­ber, and in Jan­u­ary it took con­trol of deten­tion oper­a­tions, which moved to the new Par­wan facil­i­ty after the deten­tion cen­ter at Bagram was closed. About 1,200 mil­i­tary mem­bers make up the task force, and 126 Afghan mil­i­tary police guard the facil­i­ty, Har­ward said. 

Ambas­sador Hans Klemm joined Har­ward at the brief­ing. Klemm was appoint­ed last month as the coor­di­nat­ing direc­tor for rule of law and law enforce­ment in Afghanistan, as the task force evolves with more civil­ian input into the Com­bined Inter­a­gency Task Force by Sept. 1. The new com­bined task force “will allow us bet­ter focus and align us to the Afghan goals on coun­ternar­cotics and anti­cor­rup­tion,” Klemm said. 

The task force works close­ly with Afghan gov­ern­ment lead­ers, and will begin tran­si­tion­ing con­trol of the deten­tion cen­ter to the Afghans in Jan­u­ary, with com­plete deliv­ery Jan. 1, 2012, Har­ward said. The cen­ter is designed to hold 1,300 detainees, and rough­ly 900 peo­ple are held there on any giv­en day, defense offi­cials said. 

Har­ward and Klemm out­lined the process they said is inclu­sive of Afghan fam­i­lies, vil­lage rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and human rights groups. Rules of con­duct apply to every per­son as soon as they are detained. The detainee’s fam­i­ly and gov­ern­ment offi­cials are informed with­in 24 hours of cap­ture, and every detainee must either be released or turned over to the task force for deten­tion with­in 96 hours. Detainees may be held in field deten­tion for up to 14 days while a deter­mi­na­tion is made as to their threat lev­el and involve­ment in the insurgency. 

For those trans­ferred to the deten­tion cen­ter at Par­wan, a detainee review board must be held with­in 60 days, and every 60 days there­after, to deter­mine whether the per­son still pos­es a threat that war­rants con­tin­ued detention. 

Ini­tial cri­te­ria for deten­tion includes either par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the Unit­ed States or har­bor­ing some­one who did, or sub­stan­tial­ly sup­port­ing the Tal­iban or al-Qai­da or oth­er forces bel­liger­ent to the Unit­ed States and coali­tion forces. 

Detainees are appoint­ed legal coun­sel, and they and their fam­i­lies attend all unclas­si­fied ses­sions of review board hear­ings, they said. 

The deten­tion cen­ter “is a world-class facil­i­ty” that is humane and fol­lows inter­na­tion­al law, Har­ward said. It reha­bil­i­tates, edu­cates and gives voca­tion­al train­ing to detainees. “One indi­vid­ual said he learned more at our facil­i­ty than he did at [an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion],” he said. 

When deten­tion offi­cials feel con­fi­dent detainees won’t return to the fight, they are released after a meet­ing is held with their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives, all of whom must sign a pledge that the detainees will not return to the insur­gency, Har­ward said. 

“It ties the infor­mal and for­mal jus­tice sys­tem in a way they under­stand,” the com­man­der said. “We’re try­ing to lever­age those famil­iar bonds so they don’t return to the fight.” He added that the task force released a detainee today whose moth­er told them she would “take his legs off” if he rejoined the fight against the coalition. 

Rec­on­cil­ing detainees peace­ful­ly back into their com­mu­ni­ties “is the focus of every­one here today,” Har­ward said, adding that recidi­vism of detainees is low, and bio­met­rics are used to more eas­i­ly iden­ti­fy and track them after they are released. 

Few­er than 50 of detainees are for­eign fight­ers, Har­ward said, and of those, about 75 per­cent are from Pak­istan. The task force’s pref­er­ence is to have for­eign detainees repa­tri­at­ed to their home coun­tries, but if that can’t hap­pen, they go on tri­al in Afghanistan, he said, adding that sev­en have been pros­e­cut­ed so far. 

Of about 200 detainees released this year, Har­ward said, all said they were treat­ed with respect, well fed and pro­vid­ed health care. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →