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US Detention Facility in Afghanistan Photographed For First Time

News media representatives were permitted to take video and still photos this week at the detention facility in Parwan, Afghanistan for the first time since it became operational in December 2009.

Coalition and Afghan military and civilian leaders, news media and human rights organizations have toured the facility but had never been permitted to shoot photos and record video because of a Defense Department policy, which recently changed.

"The change in the documentation policy enables a level of transparency that did not previously exist, countering negative perceptions with truthful, accurate images," Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, Joint Task Force 435's commander, tells the American Forces Press Service. The admiral has command, control, oversight and responsibility for U.S. detention and correction operations in Afghanistan.


"Joint Task Force 435 is proud of the facility and the important mission our people are responsible for doing every day," Harward said. "We are committed to transparency at all levels of the detention operations mission and welcome the opportunity to show that we are conducting operations in accordance with international law and providing appropriate treatment and care to all detainees."

The Parwan facility will transition to the Afghans beginning January 2011. Some restrictions on photography and videography remain, officials said, due to security or safety considerations.

"I am exceptionally proud of the work this task force does every day, providing humane, respectful care to those in our custody," Harward told the Armed Forces Press Service. "I welcome this opportunity to show what it is really like inside the detention facility in Parwan. These truthful, accurate images of our operations help to mitigate false accusations and perceptions that may otherwise fuel the insurgent cause."

Once transferred, the detention facility will become part of a larger Afghan Justice Center in Parwan, which will become Afghanistan's central location for the pre-trial detention, prosecution and post-trial incarceration of national security suspects. This transfer is consistent with the memorandum of agreement signed by the pertinent Afghan ministries on Jan. 9