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Bagram prisoners to get new legal rights

Published 14/09/2009

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.

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.

Belfast Telegraph

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