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US transfers control of Camp Taji prison to Iraq authorities

[JURIST] The US military on Monday transferred Camp Taji [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], one of the two remaining detention facilities under US control, to Iraqi authorities. Located approximately 25 kilometers north of Baghdad, Taji currently houses about 2,900 detainees [AP report] held on arrest warrants, detention orders, or as convicted prisoners. About 100 detainees will remain in US custody. During the ceremony transferring Camp Taji, Brigadier General David Quantock, United States Forces-Iraq [official website] deputy commanding general for detainee operations, praised [AFP report] the Iraqi staff currently running the facility. Quantock added that Camp Cropper [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive], the only remaining US-run detention facility, would be transferred to Iraqi control on July 15.

The US began to scale back its Iraq detention facilities in September when Camp Bucca [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Southern Iraq was closed [JURIST report] pursuant to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF]. According to the agreement, all US troops must be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, and the US must release all prisoners or transfer them to the control of Iraqi authorities. The Iraqi government must have arrest warrants or detention orders to accept transferred prisoners into Iraqi facilities, otherwise risking release. In anticipation of prisoner releases and transfers [JURIST report], the US opened a new facility in February to train Iraqi corrections officers [press release]. A fourth US-run prison, Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive], was transferred back to Iraqi control [JURIST report] in 2006 following the release of photographs depicting prisoner abuse by US military personnel.

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