Red Cross confirms that the Afghan ‘Black Hole’ does exist

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THE Red Cross has confirmed that the US airbase at Bagram does contain a prison within a prison, complete with a torture chamber, that ex-prisoners call the ‘Black Hole’.

We already know that up to 300 prisoners, including a number of British nationals, were held there, after they were handed over to the Afghan secret police by the British army.

Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, on the site, and subjected to torture.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has admitted that since August 2009 US authorities have been notifying it of the names of detained people in a separate structure at Bagram.

In fact a number of legal battles have been waged in the British courts during which the British government has denied that there were any facilities where prisoners were being held without charge and trial, and being subjected to torture in Afghanistan and Diego Garcia, and further denied that British officials and MI5 knew about such facilities and visited them.

The government has repeatedly fought against those who sought to expose such torture centres and British government collaboration with them, and worked to illegally silence them.

In fact, the government sought to get judicial support for its practice of refusing to hand over official documents that dealt with these issues, and as well sought to get civil cases for a judicial review held in secret with the claimant and their lawyers barred from the court, and barred from a view of the evidence.

After a very determined struggle, government efforts to keep torture, and British government support for it secret, failed.

In a recent case, the Court of Appeal ‘firmly and unambiguously’ rejected the government’s argument that it is open to a court, in the absence of statutory power, to order a ‘closed material procedure’ in relation to the trial of an ordinary civil claim.

The court ruled that the claims of former Guantanamo detainees brought against the British Security Services and various government departments, for alleged complicity in their torture and maltreatment over several years, had to be heard in open court.

On November 18, 2009, in a highly controversial judgment, Mr Justice Silber had ruled, at the behest of the government, that in principle it was possible for a court to allow a party to rely on closed evidence and closed pleadings in a civil claim for damages.

The government demanded and got a situation where it would be able to rely on such evidence, the judge trying the case would be able to see it and make a judgment dependant on such evidence, but the other party and their legal team would not be able to see it, respond to it or cross-examine witnesses on it.

The Appeal judges referred to the ‘cardinal requirement that the trial process must be fair, and must be seen to be fair . . . which under the common law means that a trial is conducted on the basis that each party and his lawyer, sees and hears all the evidence and all the argument seen and heard by the Court.’

Lawyers for the claimants stated: ‘We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has fully accepted the Claimants’ arguments that the government has been seeking to introduce, via the backdoor, unconstitutional and manifestly unfair measures to defend these most serious of allegations, which the Courts must emphatically resist.’

The government was prepared to illegally prevent the evidence of its support and complicity with torture and torturers coming out into the open.

The truth is now out and confirmed with the admission of the Red Cross that the ‘Black Hole’ does exist.

However, the torture of the Afghan people continues, with thousands dying at the hands of the imperialist forces. This must be stopped. The trade unions must demand the immediate withdrawal of all imperialist troops from Afghanistan and the arrest and trial of the torturers and the political leaders who have backed them and tried to cover up their crimes.