By: Dana Ricci
Pace International Law Review, Managing Editor
June 1st marked a particularly significant day in Afghan history as the American-run Parwin Detention Center held its first trial of four Afghan prisoners for their involvement in bomb-making, less than nine years after the United States first invaded Afghanistan. Officials have said that the detainees “will be tried in an Afghan court, before an Afghan judge, and he will be defended by an Afghan lawyer.” Such procedures are a far cry from the prior prison, Bagram, which had continuously been criticized for its mistreatment of prisoners and denial of fundamental human rights to its detainees. Under the former system, prisoners were not entitled to lawyers or trials, such as they are under the current system.
The hearing also represents a change in American detention procedures in Afghanistan, as the United States policy has been criticized internationally for depriving Bagram detainees of the right to challenge their imprisonment. Although it is unclear what will happen to the 800 prisoners still being held at Bagram, the procedures at Parwin Detention Center grant lawyers, hearings, trials and other rights that the former lacked. Additionally, the United States, despite their current heavy involvement with the Parwin Detention Center, plans to transfer control of the prison to the Afghan government in 2012. In fact, American officials have already begun preparing for the transfer by training Afghans in the procedures for managing the prison.