LAHORE - PR - Six Pakistani detainees have been released from US custody at Bagram Prison in Afghanistan and repatriated to Pakistan last week, according to a letter submitted by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in a US Court of Appeal.

The letter was provided to the lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) on 18 November, 2013. The JPP is a non-profit law firm representing these Pakistani detainees in the Lahore High Court (LHC) since 2011, demanding their release and repatriation. The six released are Hamidullah Khan, Sabeel Suleiman, Abdul Qadir Imran, Mohammed Riaz, Abdul Karim and Palak Jan. All have been held for as several years without charge, trial or access to a lawyer. The Pakistan authorities have still not issued any statement or provided any information to the families of these detainees or their lawyers at the JPP about the whereabouts of the six detainees released. Even the news of their release only came from the US Department of Justice and not from the Pakistani government. At present, however, JPP has not been informed of their clients’ location nor have they been granted access to them.

One of the detainees released, Hamidullah Khan, was only 14 years old when he was kidnapped from Pakistan in 2008 and illegally detained in Bagram, despite being a juvenile. Two of the other detainees, Abdul Qadir Imran and Mohammed Riaz, were picked up by the Afghan army and handed over to the US military in 2005. None have ever been charged.

One a number of occasions since 2011, the LHC has directed Pakistan government to secure the immediate release of these Pakistanis from Bagram. In October 2012, the Pakistan government submitted a list of six Pakistani detainees due to be released.

It took over a year, however, for their repatriation to materialise.

Barrister Sarah Belal of JPP, counsel for the detainees, maintains that the delay from the Pakistan government adds to the injustice instead of providing relief. She said, “A victory that should have occurred by order of the court one year ago is a resounding defeat. It does not show that the system is working. It shows an ongoing pattern of delays and stalls that needs to end.”