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U.S. Has No Immediate Plans to Close Abu Ghraib Prison

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2006 – The United States always has planned to transfer authority for all detention facilities in Iraq to the Iraqis, but announcements regarding the imminent closure at the Abu Ghraib prison are premature, defense officials said today.

News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate, officials said.

There's no specific timetable for that transfer or for closure of the Baghdad prison, they said. Decisions regarding Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities in Iraq will be based largely on two factors: the readiness of Iraq's security forces to assume control of them and infrastructure improvements at the facilities.

The Abu Ghraib facility, which houses about 4,500 prisoners, became notorious in 2004 after isolated reports of prisoner abuse were made public. Defense officials condemned the actions sharply, insisting that detainee abuse is not tolerated. All allegations of detainee abuse are aggressively investigated, and anyone convicted of or involved in abuse is held accountable, they said. Six soldiers at the Abu Ghraib facility were tried on abuse charges.

All detainees are treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and receive military medical care similar to what deployed U.S. servicemembers receive, officials said.

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