Karzai Says Afghans Will Take Control of Bagram Prison From U.S.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered the transfer of the U.S.-run Bagram prison to his government’s control within a month, citing human rights violations.

Karzai decided the transfer should be made after hearing a report on the prison from the Constitutional Oversight Commission that “details many cases of violations of the Afghan Constitution and other applicable laws of the country, the relevant international conventions and human rights,” the president’s office said yesterday in a statement.

The detention center is located in the Bagram Air Base, 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of the capital of Kabul. While the number of high-value prisoners isn’t known, human rights groups allege that detainees are kept in solitary confinement in windowless cells, and have been menaced and forced to strip naked, the Associated Press reported without naming the groups.

The U.S. plans to withdraw most of its 98,000 combat soldiers from Afghanistan by 2014 as it hands over operational control of the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda to Afghan forces. Karzai has clashed with American officials over issues such as corruption and civilian casualties during the conflict.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a briefing yesterday in Washington that the Obama administration will work with the Afghan government “in a manner that is maximally responsible” to implement the transfer of control of detention centers.

The timeline for such transfers “is a matter that we have to work on with the Afghan government as appropriate mechanisms are put in place,” she said. “Those discussions are still ongoing.”

The commission is led by Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afghan defense minister, and includes the minister of interior, the minister of justice and the general director of Afghan intelligence agency among its members, the statement said.