US closes controversial Camp Bucca prison in Iraq

[JURIST] The US closed [press release] the Camp Bucca [backgrounder] prison facility in Southern Iraq Wednesday, pursuant to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF]. The remaining detainees were transferred from Camp Bucca, once the largest US detention facility in Iraq, to the two remaining US prison facilities, Camp Cropper and Camp Taji. Since the SOFA took effect on January 1, 5,703 prisoners have been released [JURIST report], while 8,305 remain in US custody. According to the agreement, the Iraqi government must have arrest warrants or detention orders to accept transferred prisoners into Iraqi facilities, otherwise risking release. Under the SOFA, the US must release all prisoners or transfer them to the control of the Iraqi government by 2011.

In anticipation of prisoner releases and transfers, the US began building a facility [JURIST report] in July to train Iraqi corrections officers. In November, Iraqi human rights activists expressed concern about the treatment of detainees [JURIST report] due to be transferred from US military custody to Iraqi authorities under the then-proposed security agreement. In August 2008, the US military said that it had released more than 10,000 Iraqi detainees [JURIST report] over the past year. Also that month, six US sailors were charged [JURIST report] for allegedly abusing detainees at Camp Bucca. Camp Bucca was at the center of controversy in 2003 when the so-called Taguba report [text, PDF] detailed instances of detainee abuse and found that the detention camp was well over its carrying capacity.

 

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