Cablegate: State of Detention Facilities in Iraq: North And


DE RUEHGB #2913/01 2531146
P 091146Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Similar to conditions in southern and
central Iraq, there are serious problems with overcrowding in
detention facilities in northern and western Iraq. Ongoing
GOI military operations and a lack of sufficient facilities,
especially prisons, have exacerbated overcrowding in Diyala
and Al-Anbar. Almost all the facilities are experiencing a
lack of food, medical care, and basic supplies. There are
also widespread reports of delays in judicial processing.
There are some, although fewer than before, allegations of
abuse and torture, specifically during the investigation
period. For non-KRG facilities, the most immediate need is
more prison space. Detention facilities in the KRG are in
relatively better condition, and the KRG reformed its
detention operations in 2008 in order to improve conditions.
Currently the primary concern with KRG detention facilities
is the treatment of pre-trial detainees, as there are still
reports of forced confessions. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) PRTs and ePRTs around the country have increased
efforts to visit and inspect GOI detention facilities in
northern and west Iraq. (Note: The state of detention
facilities in southern Iraq reported septel. End Note.)
Detention facilities are run by four GOI ministries and two
KRG ministries. (Note: The KRG also has security facilities
run by its intelligence service, Asayish. End Note.) The
Ministry of Interior (MoI) runs pre-trial detention
facilities, or jails, and also holds detainees in numerous
police stations. There are five National Police detention
facilities and 275 Iraqi Police facilities around the
country, except for in the KRG. The Ministry of Defense
(MoD) operates Iraqi Army (IA) detention facilities. There
are approximately 29 MoD facilities above the brigade level.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) operates two
juvenile facilities in Baghdad. (Note: The Ministry of
Justice runs the other seven juvenile facilities outside of
the KRG. Juveniles are also held at various MoI facilities
across the country, sometimes in their own quasi-facility but
generally in a separate cell from the adults. End Note.)
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) runs all post-trial prisons and
some pre-trial facilities. (Note: The MoJ has the legal
responsibility to operate all detention facilities in the
country other than temporary holding facilities (i.e., police
station holding cells). End Note.) In the KRG, all
post-trial prisons are under the KRG Ministry of Labor and
Social Welfare (KMoLSW). Pre-trial facilities are operated
by the KRG MoI. On September 1, the MoI had 8815 pre-trial
detainees and MoD had 1,601 pre-trial detainees. There were
9,581 additional pre-trial detainees and 10,522 post-trial
prisoners in MoJ, KRG, and MoLSA custody.


3. (SBU) The main concern in Diyala detention facilities is
massive overcrowding, which has been exacerbated by ongoing
military operations in the province. The crowded jails,
which have recently absorbed almost 600 new detainees in the
GOI military operations, have caused shortages in food,
water, and medical treatment. The worst overcrowding is in
the MoJ pre-trial facility in Baqubah, which is at 300
percent over capacity, and the Fifth IA Division holding
facility. PRT officers regularly visit the MoD, MoJ, and MoI
facilities in the province and note concerns about the
increased strains on the facilities by increasing detainee

4. (SBU) The MoD Fifth IA Division detention facility at
Khamees houses approximately 360 men, four women, and a
child, in a facility designed for around 180 detainees. The
women are separated from the men and housed in a cell with no
electricity. The men are in overcrowded cells that make it
difficult for detainees to have enough room to sleep. There
is no air conditioning, conditions are unsanitary, and
outside exercise or recreation is not allowed. On a recent
visit, PRTOffs noted evidence of abuse of one detainee.
There is access to medical care, and each detainee is
examined by a doctor.

5. (SBU) The PRT and U.S. Military officials regularly
visit three MoI jails in Diyala. In the most recent visit to
Baqubah Jail and Major Crimes Unit, which are collocated,
there were 634 detainees in the jail and 88 detainees in the
Major Crimes Unit, including two juveniles. (Note: The ten
year old has since been released by the Court of Cassation.
End Note.) PRTOffs took note of 13 blindfolded detainees
with their hands tied behind their backs who had been sitting
in a hallway for three days waiting to see a judge. (Note:
PRTOffs asked prison officials to at least tie their hands in
front of their bodies. The request was agreed to, and the

prison officials noted that the detainees are untied at night
and allowed to sleep. End Note.) They also noted a ten year
old juvenile housed with adult males in a large cell. The
Khan Bani Saad Jail held 59 detainees (well over the capacity
of 20) in the last PRT visit, and was in relatively better
condition than the others. However, the detainees are not
given food by the jail and have to rely on food from their
families. The Khalis Jail held 100 detainees in a facility
designed for 50. All three jails were grossly overcrowded
and unsanitary, with little ventilation to ameliorate the
foul smells. Detainees in Baqubah and Khalis reported
several cases of scabies and other contagious skin diseases.


6. (SBU) Previous reporting on the Tikrit jail (reftel and
unclassified O/I July 22), has highlighted the problems with
overcrowding and its effect on health and security. During
visits of provincial jails, PRTOffs saw overcrowding and
unsanitary conditions, particularly in the Tikrit Terrorist
Jail. There are plans for the GOI to build a new 1000-bed
jail; however construction has not begun, and the facility
will not likely be ready before the end of 2009.

7. (SBU) Since the issue was raised in June, the PRT has
intensified efforts to visit the jail and raise issues of
concern with Iraqi officials. PRT officials have brought
Iraqi parliamentarians, military commanders, health
officials, engineers, and judicial authorities to visit the
jail in order to find solutions to expand the facility,
improve health facilities, and improve coordination between
the police and judicial authorities. MNF-I DCG visited the
facility with the MoI Inspector General to increase pressure
on the MoI to improve its detention facilities.


8. (SBU) The MoI operates several jails in Al-Anbar
province, all at over-capacity levels. Although there is a
strong need for a prison in the province, the MoJ does not
operate a post-trial facility in the area. The USG is in the
process of acquiring land on which to build a 1500-bed prison
in Ramadi to relieve some overcrowding problems. (Note:
There is a dispute between the MoJ and Ministry of Finance on
the land title. If this is not resolved soon, the USG will
lose the funding for this prison. End Note.) Causing much
of the overcrowding is the problem with judicial delays.
EPRTs in Ramadi and Fallujah report long delays in the
judicial process, with some pre-trial detainees being held in
jails for over a year before trial. The biggest cause of the
delays is the lack of coordination between the investigative
judges and the police on moving cases forward. Additionally,
there are reports that police hold some cases back for

9. (SBU) Facilities in Anbar faced shortages of food for
detainees over the last several months. The MoJ, which
legally has the responsibility to provide food for all
detention facilities, had neglected to provide funding for
food to detainees in Anbar. Detainees had to rely on food
donations from family members and a U.S. Military CERP
program that provided food from January to June. In July,
the MoJ finally signed a contract for food distribution to
Anbar facilities; however, some western facilities still
report a lack of food.

10. (SBU) The Fallujah jail has capacity for 100 detainees
but usually has between 350-400 detainees. The conditions in
the facility are bad, with both juvenile and adult detainees
crammed into small rooms. There is evidence of scabies,
which has the capability to spread easily. The facility is
run by the Major Crimes Unit of the police, whose focus is
investigations and not maintaining and overseeing detention
facilities. Many reports indicate cases of abuse during the
investigations by the major crimes unit.

11. (SBU) There are five district MoI jails, for pre-trial
detainees, and one provincial jail in Ramadi. The provincial
jail is used to hold detainees awaiting trial and those post
trial awaiting transfer to a prison. Previously, detainees
were held at smaller facilities in the province, experiencing
inconsistent methods of treatment, but the system was
consolidated to create a more efficient and humane system.
Detainees now are in facilities with air conditioning, at
times, and are now allowed outside recreation time. A new
provincial jail will be completed in early 2009 and will ease
some overcrowding problems. While overcrowding is an issue,
there have been drastic improvements from previous

conditions. The Ramadi ePRT assists in training classes for
the police and will soon begin a training course designed to
improve correction standards for jail managers. The ePRT is
also working with the Commission of Integrity on establishing
anti-corruption training classes.

12. (SBU) The ePRT inspects each of the MoI facilities in
Ramadi. The Jazeera IP station, with a capacity of 40, is
new and in good condition. Shamiya IP station is also a new,
clean facility but is more congested. The North IP station
holds about 100 detainees and is well maintained and managed
by an engaged staff. Shabab is an older facility with a
crumbling infrastructure. Although there have been
improvements in sanitary conditions over the year, the
physical plant is still in bad shape, and about 90 detainees
are in three cramped cages, acting as cells, generally
without air conditioning. The East IP station is in poor
condition and is in need of rehabilitation. Detainees are
held in the basement with limited light and electricity.
These facilities are visited by a Ministry of Health doctor
on a weekly basis. Detainees are either allowed to spend
time outside twice a week or daily, depending on the
facility. Some detainees report they have spent months in
the jail, but most at least said they had seen an
investigative judge. The Provincial Transfer Jail is a
temporary holding station for those awaiting trial or
transfer to a prison and is relatively new and
well-maintained. It is the only facility with a doctor on


13. (SBU) There are two pre-trial facilities in Kirkuk, a
jail and juvenile detention facility. There is no post-trial
prison in the province, and prisoners are either transferred
to Ft. Suse prison in Sulaymaniyah or Badush prison in
Ninewa. The judiciary, police, and government leaders agree
that Kirkuk is in need of a post-trial facility. Provincial
authorities have not addressed any of the concerns from the
jail on improving conditions and capacity.

14. (SBU) The Kirkuk Jail comprises two buildings, one
built by the USG in 2007 and another older building.
Currently, the jail is a little over capacity, but crowding
has improved this year with over a hundred amnesty releases.
According to Colonel Korsheed, who runs the jail, there have
been no complaints of human rights abuses or torture; the PRT
has also not received any reports of torture or abuse at the
jail. The detainees have access to medical care full time
and limited outdoor time. There are no rehabilitation and
educational programs at the jail because it is a pre-trial
facility and intended to only house prisoners for a short
period of time.

15. (SBU) The PRT most recently visited the Kirkuk Juvenile
detention facility in August. There were 15 juvenile males
detained in one cell. Due to a past bombing of the facility,
four rooms were destroyed, limiting capacities of the
facility. There is no longer any space for female juveniles,
so the facility is currently all male. The one room is in
poor condition; there are not enough beds or space, and there
is mold growing on the walls making the juveniles sick.
After sentencing, juvenile prisoners would be transferred to
the Northern Juvenile General Prison in Sulaymaniyah.
However, the KRG recently decided it would no longer accept
juvenile detainees or women from Kirkuk to the post-trial
facility. This has forced sentenced juveniles to remain at
the Kirkuk pre-trial jail. The development is exacerbating
existing overcrowding concerns and needs to be addressed.


16. (SBU) The KRG reformed its prisons system through
several executive decisions in the first quarter of 2008,
putting control of all post-trial prisons under the KRG
Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (KMoLSW). (Note:
Previously, some were under KMoLSW and some under the KRG
MoI. End Note.) Pre-trial facilities remained with the KRG
MoI. A KRG Prime Ministerial special committee that was
formed in response to criticism from international human
rights report promoted this reform, according to the KRG
Minister of Labor and Social Welfare. Currently, the primary
concern with KRG detention facilities is the treatment of
pre-trial detainees, as there are still reports that coercion
is used to influence confessions. Human Rights Watch
registered concern in 2007 that some interpreted the regional
Anti-Terrorism Law of 2007 as allowing coerced confessions as
long as there was some corroborating evidence. There are two

federal prisons in the KRG region that house prisoners from
around the country. Both of these, Ft. Suse and a new
facility at Chamchamal that is under construction, are in
Sulaymaniyah province and are run by the federal MoJ. The
KRG intelligence services (the Asayish, which are under
regional ministerial authority), and two party security
institutions that do not report to the elected government)
also operate pre-trial detention facilities, which are not
monitored by outside entities. The Erbil RRT does not have
mandate to fund or contribute to programs related to
detention facilities but does monitor and report on prisons
as possible. The KRG funds the staffing, supply, operations,
and maintenance of all regional prisons and pre-trial
detention facilities in the KRG without any direct linkage to
national resources.

17. (SBU) The RRT conducted its first inspection of
facilities in Sulaymaniyah in February, not including
security force facilities, which are restricted. RRTOffs
also meet with the Minister and Director General of the
KMoLSW, who reports that the ministry is actively trying to
address concerns raised in human rights reports on the
region, such as improving the quality of life of detainees
and increasing access to occupational training. The ministry
has a clear tracking system for detainees, which is linked to
the court systems. (Comment: This level of tracking
information and detainee information is more advanced than
GOI facilities, where there are no standard procedures for
tracking detainees. End Comment.) There is a separate
prison for women, which includes a wing for juveniles. The
facility is well-resourced and maintained, and the KRG is
planning to build a larger facility in 2009.


18. (SBU) To ease overcrowding issues, Post will continue
to push for resolution of the land title dispute in order to
begin building a prison in Al-Anbar. We will also continue
urging ministries to budget for new detention facility
construction, specifically in areas of primary concern.
Detainees from recent operations are awaiting judicial
processing, and Post and the Military will monitor which
facilities are in dire need of more investigative judges and
encourage judges from Baghdad to travel to the provinces and
process detainees. The PRTs and Military will continue to
visit more MoI and MoD facilities, and we will rely on
reporting from the PRTs and MNF-I, MNC-I, MNSTC-I, and TF134,
who all conduct extensive inspection duties. Our presence in
the facilities has been beneficial to improving conditions,
and we will continue to place pressure on GOI and detention
facility officials.

© Scoop Media

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