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Afghan prisoner transfer restarts

The Government is to restart the transfer of Afghan detainees captured by British forces into the Afghan judicial system, the Ministry of Defence said.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond suspended transfers in November amid claims that detainees were being abused while in Afghan custody.

But Mr Hammond said he is now "satisfied that it is safe" for detainees to be transferred to the Afghan National Detention Facility in Parwan, a move which will begin later this month.

The centre, at the US military airfield in Bagram, is operated and controlled by the Afghan National Army, supported by US troops.

The MoD said it had been working with the Afghan authorities since November to find a safe and effective way to transfer those captured by UK forces on the battlefield into the Afghan judicial system, and intends to resume transfers after 21 days.

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."

Abuse of detainees is illegal under Afghan and human rights laws, and the UK will not transfer detainees to any facility if there is a risk of serious mistreatment, the MoD said.

British troops detain suspected extremists captured on the battlefield under authority of the United Nations security mandate, it added.

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