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U.S. builds new detention center in Afghanistan

The new facility, which will hold up to 1,100 detainees, is aimed at replacing the controversial existing one at Bagram.

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In an effort to lay to rest some of the controversy surrounding its Afghanistan detention program, the US is building a new detention facility there designed to be on par with one in Iraq that came to be seen by many as a model program.

Construction has begun on a new facility for as many as 1,100 detainees to be run by Americans at a US airbase at Bagram 50 miles north of the capital of Kabul.

Although the facility will be built on a far smaller scale than the main facility in southern Iraq, Pentagon officials hope that the new center will address widespread concern among human rights groups and independent experts over alleged secret detentions and prisoner mistreatment at Bagram.

Reports of detainee mistreatment first arose in 2002.

The Bagram Theater Internment Facility has come a long way since then but is still not as suitable as it should be for holding detainees for any length of time, defense officials say.

"We think it's really going to build on our best practices and lessons learned from our operations in Iraq, but recognizing that it needs to be tailored to the local Afghan population," says Sandra Hodgkinson, who oversees detention policies for the Pentagon.

The new center will effectively replace the existing center at Bagram, which is currently holding more than 630 detainees.

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