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In Iraq's prisons, a culture of abuse

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The Iraqi Correctional Service, whose officers are being trained in a US-run program, operate in Ministry of Justice prisons. Interior Ministry prisons are run by Iraqi police, according to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's former security adviser Mouaffak al-Rubaie, and accommodate detainees who are awaiting trial. Ministry of Justice prisons are meant to accommodate prisoners who have been convicted and are serving a sentence. While the US doesn't charge Iraqi detainees, as of early August 1,644 in its custody had either been convicted or were pending hearings or trials in Iraqi courts.

Conflicting reports from prison inspections

Baghdad's Rusafa prison, which is run by the Ministry of Justice, is the primary recipient of US detainees, says Huey. "We have inspected and continue to inspect [it]." His inspection teams, he adds, "go to prisons and inspect and assist them, and they are improving. We feel very confident about the nine facilities."

But that doesn't jibe with early findings of the Iraqi government committee set up in June – an eight-member group formed after the assassination of prisoner-rights crusader Harith al-Obeidi, deputy chairman of parliament's human rights committee. An Iraqi military spokesman told the Associated Press in mid-July that the panel had visited three detention facilities in Baghdad, and that most of the abuse uncovered so far took place in the Rusafa prison.

An Interior Ministry official who was inspecting Diyala prisons told the Monitor that the ministry "sent a committee to visit Rusafa, and it is not good. It is the same as the jails in Diyala Province, the same breaches of human rights."

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