US announces release of more than 5,000 Iraq prisoners so far in 2009

[JURIST] The US has released more than 5,000 Iraqi prisoners and transferred more than 1,000 more to Iraqi control in 2009, according to a Sunday statement [press release] by the US-led Multinational Force in Iraq [official website]. This year's releases and transfers, conducted in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF], brings the number of prisoners detained by US forces in Iraq below 9,000 for the first time since March 2005. There were 11,000 prisoners [JURIST report] in US custody as recently as June. The US is currently running three prisons in Iraq including Camp Cropper, which currently holds 3,572 detainees, Camp Taji, with 4,585 detainees, and Camp Bucca, which contains 790 detainees. Central Baghdad Prison, formerly Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive], was transferred back to Iraqi control [JURIST report] in 2006 following the release of photographs depicting prisoner abuse by US military personnel. Camp Bucca is scheduled to close in September, at which time the remaining detainees will be sent to the other two prisons. Under the SOFA, the US must release all prisoners or transfer them to the control of the Iraqi government by 2011.

In July, the US began building a facility [JURIST report] to train Iraqi corrections officers in anticipation of Iraq's takeover of prisoner control. In November, Iraqi human rights activists said they were concerned about the treatment of detainees [JURIST report] due to be transferred from US military custody to Iraqi authorities under the then-proposed SOFA. Last August, the US military said that it has released more than 10,000 Iraqi detainees [JURIST report] over the past year. In November 2007, US military forces in Iraq released 500 detainees [JURIST report] at a joint ceremony with the Iraqi government at Camp Victory outside Baghdad.



 

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