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Parliament calls for closure of secret prison in Afghanistan

25 November 2009

Parliament calls for closure of secret prison in Afghanistan

Parliament has voted to support an SP motion calling on the government to close the secret prison in Bagram in Afghanistan. Harry van Bommel, SP Member of Parliament and foreign policy spokesman, says: “Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has always said that he wants to pursue a strict policy on human rights. The Netherlands is against the secret prison in Guantanamo Bay, so the government must also be in favour of the immediate closure of Bagram. Verhagen must insist to Afghanistan and the United States, and right away, that this prison close.”

Harry van BommelAt Bagram's sizeable airport, not far from the Afghan capital of Kabul, stands a large prison, part of which, known as the 'Special Operations Camp', is 'secret'. Here, a group of people are held who are entirely without the normal rights accorded to prisoners, such as access to a lawyer or to know the length of one's sentence. These people are suspected of terrorist actions and held in an attempt to extract information regarding enemy actions. What this often means is torture.

The armed forces have an accord with Afghanistan that Dutch soldiers involved in operations do not themselves hand over prisoners to be interned in Bagram's Special Operation Camp. This is done by Afghans who form parts of teams under Dutch command. In this way, Dutch co-responsibility for these illegal practices disappears. For Van Bommel, this is one of the ways in which Dutch policy in Afghanistan is tainted. “If you want to win the support of the Afghan population and promote democracy,” he says, “you must also treat prisoners by the book. If you don't do this, then you shouldn't be astonished when they turn against you. The government must insist to Afghanistan and America that Bagram close. An end must be put to secret prisons.”

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