Karzai demands return of all Afghans held prisoner by the UK in Helmand

President wants inmates transferred to Afghan justice system, though two-week deadline is legally impossible for UK to meet

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has demanded the return of Afghans held prisoner by the UK military in Helmand, giving London a two-week deadline that is legally impossible for the government to meet.

Last year UK courts banned the government from transferring the prisoners to their own justice system because of widespread torture in Afghan prisons.

This month the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, announced that Kabul and London had agreed safeguards to protect prisoners from torture, and handovers would start after three weeks.

The delay is a requirement to allow for any legal challenges to the decision, and is almost certain to stretch far longer, as lawyers acting for the prisoners have said they will challenge the decision in court.

But Karzai has demanded custody of the prisoners by 22 June. His spokesman said the British legal system should not be used as an excuse to delay the handover.

“We are living in Afghanistan and we are talking about Afghans detained on Afghan soil and held in Afghanistan. According to our laws this is a breach of sovereignty,” Aimal Faizi told the …read more  

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