Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Saturday, 21 February 2009

New jail opens at Abu Ghraib site


A look inside the renovated Abu Ghraib prison

By Jim Muir
BBC News, Baghdad

Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison which became notorious for detainee abuse by US forces in 2004, is being officially re-opened in a new incarnation.

It has been handed over to the Iraqis and renamed Baghdad Central Prison.

The site has been extensively renovated, with upgraded facilities and amenities, including a hospital, rest rooms and visiting rooms.

Work is continuing on the prison, which will eventually be the city's main jail, holding about 12,000 inmates.

Initially, only one of its four sections will be used.

There are already about 300 prisoners there to test it out and, once the prison has been officially inaugurated, that figure will rise to 3,500.

Torture allegations

Along with the change of name, the Iraqi justice ministry is trying to change both image and reality, billing it as a model prison, open to random inspection by the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations.

The Americans are still holding more than 14,000 Iraqi detainees in other facilities, in conditions that have been radically revised since the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Under the new status of forces agreement with Iraq, the prisoners are being released at a rate of about 50 a day.

Those against whom there are pending charges will be handed over to the Iraqis as the Americans withdraw.

There is much concern over the conditions in some Iraqi jails, where there is acute overcrowding and allegations of abuse and torture.

American officials say the detainees they hand over are only going to prisons run by the justice ministry and which are up to international standards.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific