KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of breaching an agreement to transfer more than 3,000 detainees at a controversial prison north of Kabul to Afghan control.

Kabul had hailed the transfer of Bagram prison, sometimes called the Guantanamo Bay of Afghanistan, as a victory for national sovereignty as NATO prepares to handover security to Afghans and withdraw its combat troops by the end of 2014.

Karzai had demanded authority over the prison as a condition for signing a long-term agreement covering Afghan-US relations after the pull-out of combat troops in 2014.

But prisoners found innocent by courts were still being held and more people had been captured by American forces against the provisions of the agreement, a statement from the president’s office said on Monday.

The president condemned what he called “a serious breach of the memorandum of understanding” with the United States after the completion of a two-month timeline agreed for the full transfer of the prison.

“The president assigned the minister of defence, the attorney general, and the chief commander of Bagram prison to take all required and urgent measures to ensure a full Afghanisation of the prison affairs and a complete transfer of its authority,” it added.

There was no immediate comment from the US embassy in Kabul.

The US formally handed control of the prisoners to Afghan authorities on September 10, but disagreements remained over the fate of hundreds of inmates.

Under the agreement, Afghan authorities will need to advice the US of plans to release any prisoners and consider favourably objections if the Americans consider such inmates could engage in “terrorist activity”.

In turn, the Afghans would give the US and humanitarian bodies access to detainees to monitor their treatment under international humanitarian law.

Human rights campaigners have regularly criticised the prison under US control, saying it fails to comply with international norms as some inmates are detained arbitrarily without trial or knowledge of the charges against them.

 

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