Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Abu Ghraib prison
The prison was renamed after coalition forces expelled the former Iraqi government, which had called it the Baghdad Central Confinement Facility (BCCF) or Baghdad Central Correctional Facility.
In May of 2004, Camp Avalanche, a tent camp on the grounds of Abu Ghraib for security detainees, changed its name to Camp Redemption at the request of a governing council member.
The size of a small town, the area was divided into five separate walled compounds for different types of prisoners.
Each block contained a dining room, prayer room, exercise area and rudimentary washing facilities. Cells contained up to 40 people in a space four metres by four.
By the fall of the government in 2003 these compounds were designated for foreign prisoners, long sentences, short sentences, capital crimes and "special" crimes.
Under Saddam Hussein
Under the government of Saddam Hussein the facility was under the control of the Directorate of General Security (Amn al-Amm ) and was the site of the torture and execution of thousands of political prisoners—up to 4000 prisoners are thought to have been executed there in 1984 alone. See human rights situation in Saddam's Iraq for a discussion of the context of these events.
The section for political inmates of Abu Ghraib was divided into "open" and "closed" wings. The closed wing housed only Shi'ites. They were not allowed visitors or any outside contact.
In 2001 the prison is thought to have held as many as 15,000 inmates. Hundreds of Shi'a Kurds and other Iraqi citizens of Iranian ethnicity had reportedly been held there incommunicado and without charges since the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. Prisoners were routinely executed. Guards fed shredded plastic to prisoners. There are allegations that some of these detainees were subjected to experiments as part of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons program.
An expansion of the prison was underway prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Amnesty International reports give some idea of the scale of the brutality — though researchers admit to being unable to provide a full picture because of the government's secrecy:
- 1994 — More than 150 detainees executed over two days in January
- 1996 — Hundreds of opposition group members executed in November
- 1998 — 60 people executed in June, mostly detainees from 1991 Shia uprising
- 1999 — At least 100 prisoners executed on 12 October
- 2001 — 23 political prisoners, mainly Shia Muslims, executed in October
In October, 2002, Hussein announced a general amnesty for prisoners held in Abu Ghraib and freed its inmates. When his government fell, the compound was looted by former prisoners.
Under the US-led coalition
Currently the site known as the Abu Ghraib prison is used by both the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq and the Iraqi government. The area of the facility known as "the Hard Site" is under the complete control of the Iraqi government and is used for housing convicted criminals. The Hard Site is best known from the abuse scandal pictures, the photos of which were all taken in Tier 1 of the complex. The remainder of the facility is occupied by the United States military. It serves as both a FOB (Forward Operating Base) and a detention facility. All detainees are housed in an area known as "Camp Redemption." The camp is divided into 5 security levels. This recently built (Summer of 2004) camp replaced the three level setup of Camp Ganci, Camp Vigilant and Tier 1.
The prison has been used as a detention facility, holding more than 7,000 people at its peak in early 2004. The current population, however, is much smaller. This is, in part, because the new Camp Redemption has a much smaller capacity than Camp Ganci alone had. Many detainees have been sent from Abu Ghraib to Camp Bucca for this reason. All people being held by the United States military are housed in Camp Redemption, some of which are alleged rebels, some alleged criminals. Convicted criminals are transfered to the Iraqi run Hard Site. While there are certainly people being held that are not guilty of the alligations, work is constantly under way to get their names cleared and released. It was the opinion of senior UK and US officials that the prison should be demolished as soon as possible, however this was overruled by the interim Iraqi Government.
It is operated by only one battalion, even though army doctrine calls for one battalion per 4,000 enemy soldiers. By contrast the High Value Detainee (HVD) Complex, Camp Cropper, maintains only about 100 detainees, and is also run by a single battalion.
In late April 2004, U.S. television news-magazine 60 Minutes II broke a story that had been taken from The New Yorker involving regular torture and humiliation of Iraqi inmates by a small group of U.S. soldiers. The story included photographs depicting the torture of prisoners, and has resulted in a substantial political scandal within the U.S. and other coalition countries. For more information see Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse.
In May 2004 the US-led coalition embarked on a prisoner release policy to try to reduce numbers to fewer than 2000. Despite numerous large releases and transfers to Camp Bucca, this goal has yet to be obtained due to the number of incoming detainees.
In a May 24, 2004 address at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania, United States President George W. Bush announced that the prison would be demolished. On June 14 Iraqi interim President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer indicated that he opposed this decision, and on June 21 U.S. military judge Col. James Pohl ruled that the prison was a crime scene and could not be demolished.
On April 2, 2005 the prison was attacked by between 40 and 60 insurgents. Between 20 and 44 Americans and 12 Iraqi prisoners were injured in the attack. A second assualt was also carried out about a day later and it is now believed that several insurgents have been killed and more than 40 US soldiers and at least 13 Iraqi prisoners injured. According to the US military about 50 insurgents were injured and a few others killed. Al Qaeda has claimed responsibilty for both of the strikes.
- Human rights in Saddam's Iraq
- Human rights in post-Saddam Iraq
- Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse reports/Gallery
- Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
- Map showing location
- No Responsibility in Bushworld- HAMMERNEWS
- The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos – a collection of graphic photos showing torture and humiliation of Iraqi inmates by a group of U.S. soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison, released by The Washington Post, ABC News, The New Yorker, CBS and Global Free Press
- New Prison Images Emerge – The Washington Post May 6, 2004 article by Christian Davenport
- Chain of Command – The New Yorker May 9, 2004 article by Seymour M. Hersh
- Videos Amplify Picture of Violence – The Washington Post May 21, 2004 article by Josh White, Christian Davenport and Scott Higham
- Use of Dogs to Scare Prisoners Was Authorized – The Washington Post June 11, 2004 article by Josh White and Scott Higham
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