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Afghan nationals who work on the base enter a walkway on March 3, 2009 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Following U.S. President Barack Obama`s executive order closing the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp, Bagram Air Base is slated for a $60 million expansion, nearly doubling the size of the prison at Bagram.
The new system will assign a military official to each of about 600 prisoners, most of whom are being held at Bagram Air Base. The official could then gather exculpatory evidence and call witnesses before a board that has the power to decide whether the detainees should be held by U.S. or Afghan officials or be released, according to reports by The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Some prisoners have been held without charge for as long as six years at Bagram, and the jail itself has become a major source of resentment against Americans. The new detainee policies would represent the first substantial shift in approach in Afghanistan since President Obama took office.
But human rights groups say they are not sure the new measures go far enough, especially since the officials who will represent prisoners will not be lawyers.