Iraq will reopen its notorious Abu Ghraib prison next month, but will change the name which became synonomous with American abuse under U.S. occupation, a senior official said on Saturday.
Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim told Reuters that the prison -- which earned global notoriety after U.S. jailkeepers filmed themselves tormenting and sexually humiliating inmates -- had been "renovated to international standards".
The renovated facility will be called Baghdad's Central Prison because the name Abu Ghraib has left a "bitter feeling inside Iraqis' hearts," deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim said.
Abu Ghraib, which was a torture center under Saddam Hussein, has been closed since 2006.
Those pictures sparked anger throughout the world and helped fuel a raging anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq.
Abu Ghraib is in an area that saw heavy fighting during the early years of Iraq's insurgency, and the U.S. military closed the facility in 2006 after constructing a giant, purpose-built prison camp in the desert on the Kuwaiti border.
Ibrahim said the newly renovated prison would house just 13,000-14,000 prisoners, including 3,500 with long sentences who would be gathered from all over Iraq. All that remains to be completed is to re-equip the prison hospital, he said.
"We are suffering from inflation of the prison population in Nassiriya, Basra, Amara and some Baghdad prisons. All those people will be brought to this prison."
Iraq is under pressure this year to increase the capacity and quality of its prisons and improve the transparency and efficiency of its criminal justice system.
Under a pact which took effect on New Year's Day, the U.S. forces in Iraq can not hold without charge the approximately 15,000 detainees they have and are supposed to turn them over to Iraqi justice or set them free.
Human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say prisoners in Iraqi custody are often beaten, abused and denied due process. They have urged Washington not to hand prisoners over without proof they will be treated well.
Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2009, 15:38