Secret detention row forces UK to hand over suspects to Afghans

Defence Secretary admits Britain holding dozens of suspected insurgents without trial in Helmand

Up to 90 prisoners are being held without charge at the British base in Helmand, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed.

The transfer of the suspected insurgents, some of them allegedly responsible for the killings of British service personnel, to Afghan custody was halted after claims that they may face mistreatment.

Mr Hammond said work was going on “very intensively” with the Afghan authorities to create the safe conditions for detainees to be transferred to the Afghan system and he said he hoped that this would be achieved “within a matter of days”.

“We are holding a number of people in the temporary holding facility in Camp Bastion – far more than we would like to be holding,” he acknowledged. “We would like nothing more than to be able to hand these people over to the Afghan authorities so that they can go properly through the Afghan judicial system.”

Solicitor Phil Shiner, who represents eight of the men, said: “This is a secret facility that has been used to unlawfully detain or intern up to 85 Afghans that they have kept secret, that Parliament doesn’t know about, that courts previously, when they have interrogated issues like detention and internment in Afghanistan, have  never been told about – completely off the radar.”

Mr Hammond responded that Mr Shiner’s firm had started proceedings against the MoD last year “precisely to prevent us handing them over to the Afghan judicial authorities”. He added that claims of a “secret facility” and Parliament being kept in the dark were “patently ridiculous”. The Ministry of Defence stated that successive governments have reported to Parliament on detention operations in Afghanistan and references in Hansard as far back as 2009 confirm this; Mr Hammond updated the House last in December 2012 on this issue. The number of detainees held at the facility in Camp Bastion has also been publicly released.

Detainees are held in a temporary holding facility that is inspected regularly by the International Committee of the Red Cross. This facility has also been inspected by MPs of the cross-party House of Commons Defence Committee, who reported to Parliament on the subject earlier this year, said the MoD.

“Our client has been held at Camp Bastion since August 2012,” said Rosa Curling, a lawyer with the firm Leigh Day, which is representing a 20-year-old detainee. “He has not been charged with any crime and has had no access to a lawyer so he can receive legal advice about his ongoing detention.”

General Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence, told the BBC that the detentions were illegal and inhumane. “The prisoners must be handed over to the Afghan authorities,” he said. “After their handover to us, they will be dealt with according to our judicial laws and  the agreements reached with the international community.”

Hammond to stand firm over call for £2bn in defence cuts

The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond signalled that he would fight an attempt by the Treasury to cut his department’s core funding.

Mr Hammond, right, has been told to cut the MOD’s budget by up to £2bn for next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

But in an interview, he suggested that he would attempt to block any cutbacks that affected military capability.

His remarks are likely to irritate the Chancellor George Osborne, who has told ministers to identify savings in their departments and not plead for exemptions.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Hammond said that while he was in favour of “efficiency savings”, “output cuts” would have an impact on military capabilities.

“There is a difference between efficiency savings, which may be difficult to achieve but are painless in terms of the impact on the front line, and output cuts.”

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence