US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan is raising questions about what, if any, effect that will have on the future of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
According to The Hill, at least two prisoners who have been challenging their detention have already updated their complaints to include Biden’s withdrawal as a reason they should be released.
But according to some experts while the war on terrorism will continue even after the last U.S. service member leaves Afghanistan, the legal justification for indefinite detention at Guantanamo does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, The Hill reported.
“I think the short answer is that we just don’t know,” Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, said of the withdrawal’s effect on Guantanamo.
“It clearly provides the remaining Guantanamo detainees with a new ground on which to challenge the legal basis for their continuing military detention, and one that is not necessarily foreclosed by existing precedent,” he added in an email.
“But it’s not at all clear that courts will be sympathetic to those arguments, not just because they haven’t been to date, but because the Executive Branch is likely to argue that the conflict with al-Qaeda isn’t ending just because we’re leaving Afghanistan.”
Forty men remain detained at the facility opened by former President George W. Bush after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Six have been cleared for transfer, and seven have been charged in the military commission system, including the five 9/11 suspects.
According to The Hill, the Biden administration is in the midst of reviewing the facility with the intention of closing it, but it remains to be seen whether that effort will be successful.
Amid the administration’s review, Biden is facing pressure to fulfill his promise to close the facility and 24 Senate Democrats penned a letter to Biden last week saying he could close the facility with “sufficient political will and swift action.”
“After years of indefinite detention without charge or trial; a history of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; and multiple attempts at a thoroughly failed and discredited military commission process, it is past time to close Guantanamo’s detention facility and end indefinite detention,” read the letter, which was organized by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.
When Biden announced earlier this month he was ordering a full withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, he declared, “It’s time to end the forever war.”
But Alli McCracken Jarrar, North American campaigner for Amnesty International, told The Hill that if Biden is serious about ending the “forever war,” he will close Guantanamo.
“I hope that he can align his timeline to withdraw from Afghanistan with his plan to close Guantanamo,” she said. “It would be wonderful to see the whole detention camp shut down and the men transferred out by September 11. And I think that would make a lot of groups feel happy and would really be a positive sign that he’s committed to his human rights obligations.”
The Hill reported that last week, lawyers for two Guantanamo detainees filed motions for the release of their clients, citing the withdrawal.
One of the two detainees is Asadullah Haroon Gul, an approximately 40-year-old Afghan captured by Afghan forces in 2007. His lawyers argued in a motion seeking their client’s immediate release that the withdrawal takes away any basis to continue holding him.
“The law is clear: Asadullah gets to go home now, regardless of whether, as the government incorrectly contends, he was part of or substantially supported al- Qaeda,” his lawyers wrote in the motion.
Almost 700 people including ex-govt officials return home: commission
The Commission for Contact with Afghan Personalities says nearly 700 officials of the previous government, politicians, members of the National Council and some experts have returned to Afghanistan since the establishment of the commission early last year.
“Six hundred and eighty people from different countries have returned to the country,” said the commission’s spokesman, Ahmadullah Wasiq.
He stated that among these people are former officials of the old government who worked in various ministries and departments.
He added that currently, a large number of personalities, including politicians and high-ranking officials of the former government, have received application forms to return to the country through this commission, and will come home soon.
“We have distributed hundreds of forms [to them] and our wish is that in the near future many of the people will return to the country, so for now this process is going very well,” Wasiq added.
A number of those who have returned to the country, however, are demanding some changes to the commission, adding that the caretaker government should make effective use of the cadres and experts who return and provide them with work opportunities.
“The method of this process should be changed, such as communicating with experts or elites or politicians. Second, when these people come to Afghanistan, they should be provided with work,” said Amanullah Ghalib, former head of Breshna Sherkat, who also returned to the country recently.
Officials have repeatedly requested Afghans living abroad, including politicians and officials of the previous government, to return to their homeland and continue their normal lives in Afghanistan in accordance with the general amnesty issued by the Islamic Emirate’s supreme leader.
Hanafi says IEA seeking to promote electronic governance
Deputy Prime Minister for Administrative Affairs Abdul Salam Hanafi said on Sunday that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is trying to promote electronic governance in its institutions.
Hanafi said this at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the simplification of administrative processes between the Department of Administrative Reforms and Civil Services, the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled, and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat company.
Hanafi added that the Islamic Emirate is committed to e-governance and is seeking to network government institutions so that the work can be done quickly.
“God willing, we are determined to gradually reform all government institutions. We are seeking to end the paperwork in the departments and we are trying to promote electronic governance among the institutions,” he said.
Hanafi also said that the Islamic Emirate is committed to serving the people and to the development of the country. He also said the government will soon start work on the second phase of Qosh Tepa canal as the first phase is almost complete.
“Alhamdulillah, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is engaged in reconstruction and development works in various fields. The first phase of the Qosh Tepa canal is being completed with our own funds,” he said.
On the other hand, officials in the Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Department said that they are hoping to attract experts and professionals in government offices and want the work to be entrusted to professionals. At the same time, the officials of DABS announced that 118 million afghanis has been collected from strongmen.
“The goal is to prevent corruption. The goal is to show compassion to the oppressed and suffering people. The goal is to avoid spending,” Abdulhanan Arifullah, the general director of the Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Department, said.
Deputy PM Hanafi said that compared to any other institution, the processes in the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled need to be simplified because vulnerable people reach out to this institution.
According to him, in the current year, 13.5 billion afghanis have been budgeted for the martyrs, disabled and orphans.
Afghan embassy in India announces it will cease operations from Oct. 1
The embassy of Afghanistan in India’s capital New Delhi will cease operations from Oct. 1, due to a lack of support from India and a reduction in personnel and resources, the embassy said in a statement on social media platform X.
The embassy also said a failure to meet expectations in serving Afghanistan’s interests is another key factor in shutting of the embassy.
“Given these circumstances, it is with deep regret that we have taken the difficult decision to close all operations of the mission with the exception of emergency consular services to Afghan citizens till the transfer of the custodial authority of the mission to the host country,” the embassy said in the statement dated Sept. 30.
In its announcement, the Afghan Embassy also cited challenges like shortage of both personnel and resources available. “The lack of timely and sufficient support from visa renewal for diplomats to other critical areas of cooperation led to an understandable frustration among our team and impeded our ability to carry out routine duties effectively,” the statement read.
The embassy also refuted any “baseless claims” regarding internal strife or discord among its diplomatic staff or any diplomats using the crisis to seek asylum in a third country.
India does not recognise the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) as government, and closed its own embassy in Kabul after the IEA took control in 2021, but New Delhi had allowed the ambassador and mission staff appointed by the Western-backed government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to issue visas and handle trade matters.
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