British forces to hand detainees back to Afghanistan authorities

Decision follows claims last week that up to 90 Afghans were being held 'illegally' at Camp Bastion

Afghan detainees being held by British forces will be handed back to their own country's authorities, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

The transfer of detainees had been suspended in November amid concerns prisoners were being mistreated, but now, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond now says the moves are safe.

The decision follows revelations that last week up to 90 Afghans were being held by British forces at Camp Bastion, after which Mr Hammond suggested that the detainees could be handed over.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the suspects claimed their internment could have been unlawful, bringing High Court action on behalf of two of the men.

British forces in Afghanistan are allowed to detain suspects for a maximum of 96 hours, except in "exceptional circumstances," but some detainees were being held for up to 14 months.

nnouncing the resumption of transfers, the MoD today said the UK would not transfer detainees to any facility where there was a risk of mistreatment but has been working with Afghan authorities to find a safe way to transfer detainees into the country's judicial system.

Many are suspected of involvement in the preparation, facilitation, or laying of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), against UK forces, or were picked up at the scene of shootings of British troops, the MoD said, and have been held pending transfer to Afghan authorities for prosecution.

Mr Hammond has now decided it is safe to transfer detainees to the Afghan National Detention Facility in Parwan, at the US military airfield in Bagram, which is operated and controlled by the Afghan National Army, with support from the US.

Interested parties have been notified of plans to resume transfers after 21 days, the MoD said.

It said British troops can detain suspected extremists captured on the battlefield under the authority of the UN Security mandate, and detainees are held where there is evidence linking them to criminal activity, before being transferred to Afghan authorities for further investigation before prosecution.

Announcing the restart of the transfers, Mr Hammond said: "We have been working to identify a safe transfer route to Afghan custody and I am pleased that this work has come to fruition.

"I very much hope we do not face any further legal impediments in the British courts which could prevent us from transferring these detainees and force us to hold them for even longer in Camp Bastion.

"The facility at Parwan is run by the Afghan National Army, trained and mentored by US forces, and has received positive reports from humanitarian organisations that monitor conditions.

"Our coalition allies also now transfer detainees to the same Afghan facility. I am confident the safeguards in place will ensure detainees will not be at risk of mistreatment.

"Detaining individuals on the battlefield is crucial to stopping those who intend to kill British servicemen and women.

"Our troops must be able to detain enemies on the battlefield and debrief them for intelligence purposes and will continue to do so before transferring them into the Afghan judicial system."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive - Hair & Beauty - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company supplies the ultim...

Recruitment Genius: Design, Marketing and Media Manager

£27000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

£17447 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a leading centre fo...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence