Thursday, October 23, 2014

Looking forward: Post-Afghanistan Detainees

 The United States is planning on leaving Afghanistan in a war capacity by the end of this year. However, there are many foreign nationals in their custody. Many of these foreign nationals might not be in their custody legally. Jessica Donati focuses on a secret prison located in Bagram used by the U.S. This prison is used to house foreign nationals from many nations, not just Afghanistan. There is a large question remaining in the face of U.S withdrawal from combat in Afghanistan. What will happen to the prisoners in Bagram? The prisoners have been brought unlawfully and outside the use of proper legal channels. Many of them have not been charged with a crime. It is against U.S policy to turn over detainees to nations in which these prisoners could be treated improperly or even executed. Another issue arises when one thinks about the issue of national security versus transparency. The United States refuses to disclose the identities of the prisoners they have detained. This means there is less third-party insight about how to properly deal with releasing the prisoners. Furthermore, if allied nations are left in the dark about practices the United States is using in combat, that could lead the U.S to be somewhat isolated. This isolation would undercut the legitimacy of alliances for the United States. The options for dealing with the detainees are also limited. The author mentions that if a crime committed by a detainee oversees is also a crime according to U.S law, the detainee can be prosecuted in the States. Another option is transferring the detainees to Guantanamo. This option worsens Obama's position that Guantanamo Bay was supposed to be closed years ago, yet still holds "155 detainees". Previous detainees have been returned to their home nations after a decade or more without charge. This happens rarely from the Bagram "secret prison".

          There are many legal and ethical issues raised by U.S withdrawal from Afghanistan and the impact this action has on detainees in Bagram. The United States is under legal obligation to not turn detainees over to nations that would prosecute them for crimes they did not commit or would treat them inhumanely. Detainees held in Bagram are from Pakistan, Yemen, Russia and Saudi Arabia, nations not generally known as models for acceptable human rights practices, according to Donati. This practice would violate the Conventions Against Torture, which has been signed and ratified by the United States. Transference of prisoners from Bagram to Guantanamo only continues the unethical practices of the U.S. The United States loses the right to hold detainees in Afghanistan after their withdrawal in 2014. If the detainees have not committed crimes to warrant their detainment in the first place, any subsequent prison transfer would also be unlawful. Next, even if the prisoners are released to their home nations, what is there remedy? How can the U.S "make-up" for taking years of their lives away without due process? By operating outside its own law, the United States has created a black hole around itself. The U.S wanting to be exempt from its fair practices that are in place on its own soil has opened the nation up to multi-level scrutiny. Lastly, there is a "tough-to-predict" repercussion from operatives within the prisoner's home nations. Actions by the U.S in secret prisons in Bagram, as well as all over the world might be inspiring to those considering joining forces against the U.S.

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