Policy Review Needed for Releasing Prisoners
More than six hundred militant prisoners have been released from Bagram prison as part of government’s efforts to deal with the cases of prisoners who have been arrested by US forces during past twelve years. The officials say these prisoners have spent behind bars without sufficient evidences against them to prove their involvement in terrorist activities. According to the reports, cases of over a hundred other prisoners have been referred to the Office of Attorney General for final review.
Afghan government’s determination in dealing with the cases of prisoners who might be innocent is praiseworthy. The government and particularly the judiciary must efficiently deal with the cases of prisoners who are accused of being involved in anti-government activities. However, the government should deal with the Taliban prisoners more deliberately and release them only if found innocent. Many of the prisoners, though not all of them, are potentially dangerous elements which could end up in the battlefields if released from prison.
In the past, the Afghan government has been harshly criticized for its reckless handling of the Taliban prisoners’ cases. The opposition parties and civil organizations believe that the government usually releases the Taliban prisoners without confirming their innocence. In the past few years, there have been instances of prisoners, who had been pardoned by President Karzai himself, coming back to carry out terrorist attack on government installations, security forces and government officials. A number of senior government and security officials have been targeted, in some cases assassinated, by militants who have spent some years behind the bars.
Releasing the militants, who in most cases are potentially dangerous, is a reward for the Taliban militant group who are killing innocent citizens and Afghan security forces on daily basis. There is dire need for the Afghan government to review its policy of dealing with war prisoners and not haphazardly release the militant prisoners who could pose potential threat to the Afghan security forces and foreign forces should not be released until their innocence is proved.
This flawed handling of the security prisoners could not be sustained in the future given that the war against the insurgency may continue for an unknown period of time in the future. If the government persists with the flawed policy towards the militants, it will jeopardize the lives and sacrifices of security forces that are fighting in the battlefields. Releasing potential dangerous elements will contribute to further security deterioration as they might end up in fighting against Afghan national security forces.
Therefore, the government needs to take an extensive and efficient approach in dealing with the war prisoners that have been involved in terrorist activities and remain potentially threatening to the Afghan security forces. For this, in particular, the Afghan judiciary needs to be strengthened and equipped with internationally standards for handling the cases of the war prisoners and terrorism suspects.