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Iraq says closed Abu Ghraib would not house detainees; Red Cross seeks access

[JURIST] An Iraqi Justice Ministry official responding to a US military statement that the US will eventually close its operation [JURIST report] at Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] in Baghdad and hand the facility back to Iraqi authorities said Friday that the Ministry would use the buildings as a storage location but not as a place to house detainees. Abd al-Hussein Shandel said Abu Ghraib was too difficult to secure [Star and Stripes report], and that the Justice Ministry had already transferred some 2400 criminals it had held there to other locations. Abu Ghraib was a notorious torture center under the Saddam Hussein regime and returned to notoriety [New Yorker report] during the American occupation after public disclosure of photographs showed detainees being abused by US personnel. Reuters has more.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross [advocacy website] in Geneva said Friday that when the US moves its detainees out of Abu Ghraib they should be relocated where the Red Cross has access [ICRC backgrounder] to them. The Red Cross has not had access to Abu Ghraib since January 2005 because the area where the prison is located is deemed too dangerous. Dorothea Krimitsas emphasized, however, that it was the treatment of the detainees rather than their location that was most important. Reuters has more.

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