Bagram’s Enemy Combatant Review Board (ECRP)
Prisons such as Bagram, Guantanamo and the many secret CIA ‘black sites’ were set up to handle ‘enemy combatants’ or ‘unlawful combatants’. The term is very broadly defined and can refer to those captured on the battle field, or those renditioned from as far away as South East Asia and Central Africa. The prisoners at Bagram, all ‘enemy combatants’, lack access to any legal rights or protection whether those given by the Geneva Conventions, international or domestic human rights law or even the US military’s own legal standards. The prisoners do not have access to an US or Afghan court, face imprisonment for years with charge, without evidence, and without being able to challenge the allegations. Recent Supreme Court rulings, in particular Boumediene vs. Bush, led to granting habeas corpus rights for prisoners being held there. Prisoners at Bagram however have still not be granted these rights.
An Enemy Combatant Review Board (ECRB), consisting of five of military officers, reviews the cases of captured or renditioned prisoners. The review board process is deeply flawed: it does not allow the prisoner to be present at the hearing, it does not allow them to see the evidence against them, and it does not allow them access to a lawyer. Worse, the review board can make full use of evidence gained under torture or other coercive techniques. It can also use hearsay against the prisoner. The prisoner has no access to a lawyer, and is given a ‘personal representative’ who is not a lawyer, is usually a member of the US military, and part of the same command structure of the army that is trying the prisoner. Many prisoners have refused to cooperative with their ‘personal representatives’ on the grounds that they represent the interest of the US military, and not the prisoner. Bagram, and the ECRB process was specifically designed to hold prisoners indefinitely and without any accountability to the law, whether international – by labelling the detainees as ‘enemy combatants’ and technically removing them from the purview of the Geneva Conventions, or domestic – by imprisoning them in at a place that the administration and the US military can claim is not under US sovereignty.