The Pentagon says it has begun implementing a program that will give
hundreds of detainees at a U.S.-run prison at the Bagram Air Base in
Afghanistan the right to challenge their custody.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Monday the new policy will allow
roughly 600 detainees to appear before a panel periodically to contest
Under the new rules, a U.S. military official would be assigned to work
with each of the Bagram prisoners. Although the officials would not be
lawyers, they would be able to gather evidence and witnesses to help
the detainees dispute their detention.
The U.S. military has been holding the detainees at Bagram north of
Kabul as "enemy combatants." Some of them have been there for up to six
Unlike terrorism suspects at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, those in Afghanistan have had no access to lawyers to
challenge their detentions or hear allegations against them.
The Pentagon spokesman says each detainee will now have the right to be heard within 60 days of his arrival at the center.
Human rights advocates say Bagram inmates have been protesting their
detention since July by refusing privileges such as recreation time,
family visits and meetings with the International Committee of the Red
The Obama administration is reviewing detention practices it inherited
from the administration of former President George W. Bush. Human
rights groups have criticized those policies, saying they allow for
arbitrary and indefinite detention.