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U.S. Maintains 'Black Jail' in Afghanistan

The New York Times has reported that the American military continues to maintain a detention camp at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, which denies the International Committee of the Red Cross access to the detainees. The use of the so-called “black jails” to interrogate high-value detainees has been confirmed by U.S. military officials, who also have stated that there are no plans to close the camps.

The existence of “black jails” comes as a surprise to some, following President Obama’s signing of in January, which ordered the closure of CIA detention facilities. The jail in Afghanistan, however, is operated by Special Operations forces, and was thus unaffected by the order. Nonetheless, the denial of access by the I.C.R.C to the jail has raised concerns, and may run afoul of sections of the Executive Order which orders access be given to the Red Cross. Though the I.C.R.C. has not stated publicly whether it has been allowed to visit the black jail, U.S. military officials have confirmed previous complaints by the Red Cross that they were not allowed access to detainees. Military officials do inform the Red Cross of the names of detainees in the jail.

None of the released detainees interviewed by the New York Times claim to have been tortured. However, the lack of transparency and the refusal to allow Red Cross monitoring have drawn criticism by human rights watch groups, who point to President Obama’s stated intention to improve conditions in U.S. detention facilities. As the U.S. prepares to close the nearby Bagram detention center, the future of the black jail remains unclear.


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