U.S. military closing Camp Bucca prison

Sept. 15, 2009 at 7:04 PM
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BASRA, Iraq, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. military in Iraq said it would close its Camp Bucca detention facility in southern Iraq within days, transferring remaining prisoners to Iraqi custody.

Humanitarian agencies made various claims of human-rights abuses at the prison facility in the southern city of Basra, ranging from insults to Islam to long-term isolation from the outside world. Released detainees tell Iraqi analytical site Niqash that al-Qaida members enforce their own version of law behind the prison walls.

Shatha al-Ubousi, a lawmaker on the Iraqi Human Rights Committee, said the closure of the detention facility is a positive step.

"The closure of the Camp Bucca is a step forward in overcoming the dark memories of Iraqi detainees," the lawmaker said.

The number of prisoners held at Camp Bucca is down from slightly more than 26,000 in 2008 to around 540.

The U.S. Army, which controls the facility, is in the process of handing over the remaining detainees to Iraqi authorities and moving ahead with plans to transform the prison into a military base.

Detainee release policies at Camp Bucca came under fire when it emerged that a former prisoner there played a role in the Aug. 19 bombings in Baghdad that killed more than 100 people.

The closure of the Camp Bucca prison center is scheduled to proceed following the conclusion of prisoner transfers, which began earlier this week.

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