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US military jails 'black holes', say US lawyers for Afghan reporter

Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

US human rights lawyers charged Sunday that US military prisons are "legal black holes" and the force is detaining journalists to "shut people up" about activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) has reported.

A vast detention camp planned for the main US base in Afghanistan will be a "second Guantanamo" where laws do not apply, they said at a press conference about an Afghan reporter in US military custody without charge for nine months.

The US military is holding Jawad Ahmad, who has worked with Canadian Television (CTV), at its detention facility at Bagram north of Kabul on allegations he is an "unlawful enemy combatant." Ahmad is among 650 people being held at Bagram without trial, US-based International Justice Network executive director Tina Monshipour Foster told reporters.

"Many people in Afghanistan and in Iraq that have been targeted for detention are local journalists covering the conflict in their own country," said another prominent US human rights lawyer, Barbara J Olshansky. "When the United States detains reporters, photographers, camera operators and holds them for long period without charge for any offence and without trials and without any evidence, we know that part of the goal is to just shut people up," she said.

The intention was to "make sure that the people of those countries and the United States do not know what is going on," she alleged. Olshansky said she was concerned a new prison being planned for the US Bagram Air Base would be similar to a US prison camp set up at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in late 2001 for suspects in its "war on terror".

"We will be attacking the use of Bagram as a legal black hole, as a second Guantanamo, as a place where no laws apply," she told the media briefing. "I think it is very clear that the reason that the United States chose to build it inside the Air Base is that they did not like the independent decisions that would have come out of the Afghan judiciary."

Afghanistan Human Rights Organisation chairman Lal Gul Lal said mainly US forces in the country had carried out scores of illegal detentions, in which people were held for years without charge. "They must be compensated," he said.

Date posted: July 21, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 345