Afghanistan’s Consultative Loya Jirga

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, a council of roughly 3,000[1] Afghan tribal elders, civic leaders and other prominent figures gathered to debate the draft bilateral security agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States. The council, referred to as a loya jirga (which means “grand council” in Pashto), was called by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss and advise on the terms of the security pact.  By the end of the four-day convention, the vast majority of the Jirga voted <Read More>


US Detainee Transfers: What Responsibilities Does the US Have When Presented with the Risk of Torture in Afghan Prisons?

As recently reported by Mike Yang Zhang,[1] a United Nations report released on January 20, 2013 revealed “systematic torture” in many Afghan-controlled detention facilities.[2] Shortly after the U.N. report was released, a delegation was assigned by President Karzai to investigate the allegations of torture.[3] After a two-week investigation, the government panel “acknowledged widespread torture of detainees.”[4] The U.N. report proposed recommendations for eliminating these instances of torture, not only to the government of Afghanistan, but also to “Troop Contributing Countries.”[5] <Read More>


Immunity for U.S. Troops and Detention in Afghanistan

The ongoing negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan regarding the future U.S. military presence in Afghanistan revolve around the crucial issue of immunity of American soldiers from prosecution.[1] The issue of immunity actually stems back directly to the March 2012 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),[2] an agreement that required the United States to transfer its Afghan detainees to the control of the government of Afghanistan.

The issue of immunity has been historically important to the U.S. military. Traditionally, the U.S. negotiates <Read More>


Systematic Torture Continuing in Afghanistan

According to a United Nations report released on January 20, 2013, systematic torture remains a serious concern in many Afghan-controlled detention facilities, despite “concerted efforts” and “sustained support” by international partners and the Afghan Government to “root out torture and abusive detention practices.”[1]

The 139-page report, compiled by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), finds that “more than half of 635 detainees interviewed (326 detainees) experienced torture and ill-treatment in numerous facilities of the <Read More>


Afghanistan and the United States Struggle over Releases of Detainees

After control of much of the Bagram detention center was handed over to Afghanistan in 2012, President Karzai “ordered authorities to review the cases of more than 3,000 prisoners” held at Bagram.[1]  In the course of 2012, “570 detainees have been released after acquittal in Afghan courts.”[2]  Nearly 1,000 prisoners have been released in 2012 overall, including prisoners whose cases never reached the Afghan courts.[3] This post analyzes the factors underlying these releases, and reports on the latest developments in <Read More>