WASHINGTON — The United States said Thursday the transfer of a US military prison to Afghan control should be handled in a “responsible” way, after Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered that the handover take place in a month.
“We have been working… for some time with the Afghan government on appropriate timing and pace for transfer of the detention facilities” at Bagram, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
“We need to do this in a manner that is maximally responsible. That’s what we want to do. And we’re going to… keep working on it,” she added.
When asked about the timeline for the transfer, Nuland replied: “It’s a matter that we have to work on with the Afghan government as appropriate mechanisms are put in place for the transfer.”
She said discussions were ongoing.
Karzai on Thursday ordered the transfer of the prison at Bagram to Afghan control within a month, citing reports of human rights violations there.
The move comes amid signs of tensions between Karzai and his US backers over plans by Taliban insurgents to open a political office in Qatar as a precursor to possible peace talks.
Karzai is reportedly concerned that he has been sidelined by the move — announced this week — and insists that any negotiations should be led by his government.
The detention facility was built within the sprawling US military base at Bagram, north of the Afghan capital Kabul after the US-led invasion in 2001 and soon gained a reputation for extra-judicial brutality.
“We take seriously any charges or allegations of detainee abuse,” Nuland said when asked about Karzai charges of such abuses.
“We respect the rights of detainees who are in facilities that the United States manages,” Nuland said.
“And we ensure that all detainees in US custody are treated in accordance with international legal obligations, including Geneva Common Article 3,” Nuland said.
“Any specific allegations of detainee abuse are investigated fully by the Department of Defense and by ISAF,” she added referring to the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force, which is tasked with helping the Afghan government maintain peace and order.