US grants legal rights to 600 Bagram prisoners

The Pentagon is expected this week to announce steps to bolster the minimal legal rights of some 600 prisoners held at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, that will allow them for the first time to hear the specific charges against them and challenge the basis of their detention.

The review is, however, unlikely to satisfy critics of the camp, just north of Kabul. It will reportedly entail assigning military officials to each of the detainees to help to collect evidence and witnesses to support any case they may have to be freed. Those cases would then be submitted not to a court but rather a newly formed Detainee Review Board.

A leading Afghan human rights group that has been pressing for changes at Bagram, a former Soviet base, last night welcomed the reforms. "We support this and approve this," Lal Gul, chief of the Afghan Commission For Human Rights, said. "We are ready for any help and co-operation in this regard."

The detainees, who are mostly suspected Taliban members, reportedly began protesting in July against their absence of legal rights by refusing special privileges such as recreation time.

The US is preparing to upgrade its rickety facility at Bagram. Prisoners have had fewer legal rights even than those held at Guantanamo Bay. Some of them have been behind bars in Bagram for more than six years.

Critics have long castigated the US for violating international human rights standards there. Washington has typically responded the detainees are captives in an active theatre of war and must as a result be treated differently. Since coming to office, however, President Barack Obama has been reviewing all the "enemy combatant" detention policies. An outline of the proposed changes for prisoners at Bagram was submitted to the relevant committees of Congress for a 60-day review in July, sources said.

The review encompasses Mr Obama's pledge to close down Guantanamo Bay. Although he is technically committed to shutting that facility by 1 January 2010, very little progress has been made on deciding what to do with the detainees.

A lawyer for one of the Bagram detainees dismissed the new rules as "window dressing". Ramzi Kassem, a law professor in New York who has taken up the case of Amin al Bakri, a Yemeni detainee there, told the Associated Press: "These changes don't come anywhere near an adequate substitute for a real review."

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
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

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable