News - Afghanistan
Afghanistan's top prison officials on Wednesday said that the country is struggling to control and maintain adequate conditions in its prisons and that security concerns were high including at the recently gained Bagram Detention Centre.
Head of the Central Prison Directorate Amir Mohammad Jamshidi and the Director of Afghanistan's largest prison Pul-e-Charkhi Khan Mohammad Khan told Afghan senators in Wednesday's sitting session that insufficient space and staff plague the system.
Jamshidi said that he was concerned about the handover of Bagram military prison from US to Afghan control last month, voicing doubts that the Ministry of Interior and Defense are able to properly control and secure it.
The comments contradict the stance of Afghan President Hamid Karzai who has repeatedly depicted control of Bagram prison as a sign of Afghanistan's sovereignty.
The senators heard from Jamshidi that insufficient space at the prisons saw up to 200 prisoners detained in areas intended to accommodate 15 people.
"It's previously been said that the Ministry of Justice will take the control of the prisoners, but now they are handing it over to Ministry of Interior which the lack sufficient ability and space to control them," Jamishidi said, adding that Taliban prisoners are trying to plan suicide attacks from within the detention centers.
He said that the country's intelligence departments should be doing more to prevent such conspiracies and infiltration within the prisons.
"They are always trying to plan attacks. A Pakistani citizen was arrested in the Pul-e-Charkhi area... It's the responsibility of the intelligence departments to take care of this," he added.
Jamshidi lamented that there was a lack of modern equipment at the prisons to detect drugs and illegal material from entering inside the prisons and accepted that prison guards were involved in helping get these things inside.
"We don't have modern detection equipment – some female visitors are carrying drugs in on their bodies. I confirm that the prison's security officials are involved in this as well," he added.
Pul-e-Charkhi's director also confirmed the involvement of some guards in transporting drugs into the prisons.
"About five percent of the guards are involved in carrying drugs within the prison. I confirm that they are also involved in corruption and bribery," Khan said.
Some senators criticised the Afghan government for taking responsibility for Bagram detention centre saying that if this was the state of the prisons then how did they demand to take responsibility for another.
According to the prison officials, there are more than 23,000 prisoners detained in Afghanistan.