After a year of tough negotiations, the US army this week handed over the only prison still under American control to the Afghan government.
The handover ends a chapter in Afghan-US relationship. The Afghan President says control over the prison is a matter of national sovereignty.
Bagram is infamous for allegations of abuse against prisoners and is often described as “Afghanistan’s Guantanamo Bay”.
Ghayor Waziri reports from Kabul.
A transfer ceremony took place at Bagram jail now renamed the Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it was a day they had long been waiting for.
“We’ve asked the US army so many time in the past few years to give us all the prison responsibilities, including Bagram prison. At first they were not ready. But finally they’re now ready to transfer the responsibilities to us. Americans must give us the responsibility and Allah will soon finish the process.”
US forces opened the facility in Kabul more than 10 years ago.
It was controversial from the start and is often referred to as the Guantamo Bay of Afghanistan.
As many as 3,000 prisoners were held there without trial. They were accused of having relations with Al Qaida and Taliban insurgents.
Afghan independent human rights commission Chief Shamsullah Ahmadzai says now justice must be served.
“According to national and international rules, one of the main rights of the prisoners is to have their cases trialed in a transparent way.”
Muhammad Anwer’s nephew was arrested two years ago by the US army and taken to Bagram prison.
He was accused of being part of the Taliban and jailed without trial.
“We could only meet him every three months. I’m very happy with the decision that Afghan government took over the Bagram prison. It’s Afghan’s country. The prisoners and government are also Afghans. It’s good that the control is back to the government.”
The full transfer was held up over a disagreement about the fate of inmates whom the US and some Afghan civil society groups feared could be released if the prison was handed over.
According to the latest deal Afghanistan will not release “dangerous” inmates without review, and about 50 foreign inmates will remain in US hands.
But Ajmal Baluch Zada Arman Shahr from Civil Society and Human Rights Network is still worried.
“One of the concern’s is about the scrutiny of prisoners files that Afghan government is going to have it. We are concerned that maybe after the scrutiny of their file those who are a danger for Afghanistan and other countries security are going to free like the previous one, when last year Afghan government took the control of more than three thousand prisoners of Bagram jail, freed about 26 prisoners without giving any information about them who they were why they arrested and … It means that Afghan government will free the others who are a danger for us as well.”