LONDON: Britain is to restart the transfer of detainees captured by its forces in Afghanistan back to the Afghan justice system later this month, the Ministry of Defence announced on Thursday.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond suspended transfers last November following claims that detainees were being abused while in Afghan custody.
But he is now “satisfied” that detainees will not be mistreated if transferred to the Afghan National Detention Facility in Parwan.
“We have been working to identify a safe transfer route to Afghan custody and I am pleased that this work has come to fruition,” he said.
“I very much hope we do not face any further legal impediments in the British courts which could prevent us from transferring these detainees and force us to hold them for even longer in (British base) Camp Bastion.”
He stressed that Parwan had “received positive reports from humanitarian organisations” and that he was “confident the safeguards in place will ensure detainees will not be at risk of mistreatment.
“Detaining individuals on the battlefield is crucial to stopping those who intend to kill British servicemen and women,” he explained.
“Our troops must be able to detain enemies on the battlefield and debrief them for intelligence purposes and will continue to do so before transferring them into the Afghan judicial system.”
The government came under fire last week after it emerged up to 90 suspected insurgents were being held without charge at Britain’s main base in Afghanistan.
British forces are normally allowed to hold suspects detained in Afghanistan for 96 hours, but they can be held for longer in “exceptional circumstances”, such as to obtain critical intelligence.