Cablegate: Disturbance at Baghdad Central Prison Leads To

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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In the aftermath of a disturbance
at Baghdad Central Prison (formerly Abu Ghraib) on
September 10, the US Embassy and MNF-I facilitated
the Ministry of Justice,s transfer of 2,630 inmates
and 273 Iraqi Correctional officers (ICOs) to the
recently completed USG funded Chamchamal Prison in
Sulaymaniyah. Despite the successful activation of
Chamchamal Prison, the ICS still faces challenges
in fully receiving support services from the GOI
for sustained, normal operations. END SUMMARY

Rioting Closes Baghdad Central Prison

2. (SBU) The disturbance at Baghdad Central Prison
(BCP) began about noon on September 10, 2009, when
a team of ICOs initiated a contraband inspection of
the cells. As the ICOs confiscated cell phones and
other contraband, the inmates became agitated and
forced the ICOs from the cellblocks under threat of
attack. Within two hours the situation deteriorated
and inmates began burning several sections of the
facility. The warden requested assistance from the
Iraqi Army (IA) to quell the disturbance. Internal
and external security was subsequently provided by
the IA and the IA and the prison,s ICOs regained
control of the situation. The Director General of
Corrections reported that BCP was back under control
but not before numerous inmates and ICOs suffered
injuries. In the early hours of September 11, inmates
began to riot again and took over the facility. The
Deputy Director General of Corrections (DDG) arrived
at the prison offered to hear the prisoners grievances,
but only after they returned to their cells. Once
the prison was under control again, the ICS transferred
approximately 1,600 inmates to several ICS prisons
in the Baghdad area.

3. (SBU) According to the Deputy MOJ, 15 ICOs were
injured and 5 were hospitalized during the riot.
He also knew that 4 inmates were injured but there
may have been more. No deaths were reported.
(COMMENT: There was no confirmation of these numbers
until many of these inmates were transferred to Rusafa
Prison Complex where ICITAP corrections advisors were
able to assess the condition of 998 inmates. Thirty-six
inmates were evaluated by ICS medical staff. All had
non-life threatening injuries: 10 suffered indirect
gunfire wounds from ricochets, 12 sustained cuts from
sharp objects, and 14 had minor injuries. END COMMENT)

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOI reopened Baghdad Central
Prison (BCP), run by the Iraqi Correctional Service
(ICS) in the Ministry of Justice, on November 28,
2008 with the first transfer of 87 post-trial inmates.
The prison was renovated, staffed, and activated
entirely by the ICS without any USG support. The
activation of BCP demonstrated ICS capacity to develop
plans and programs for their prisons. END COMMENT

Developing a Remediation Plan

5. (SBU) Minister of Justice (MOJ) Dara Noor Al Deen
and Deputy Minister of Justice Posho Ibrahim met with
Embassy Rule of Law (ROL) staff on September 12 to
discuss the situation. The MOJ advised that the ICS
had transferred approximately 1600 inmates to other
ICS prisons, and requested USG assistance in
transferring the remaining 1,050 inmates to coalition
facilities. Due to the imminent closure of Bucca and
the lack of available beds at the Taji and Cropper
facilities, ROL recommended the MOJ activate Chamchamal
Qfacilities, ROL recommended the MOJ activate Chamchamal
Prison. The MOJ agreed and requested assistance in
transferring the remaining 1,050 inmates still in
BCP. (COMMENT: Chamchamal Prison, located in
Sulaymaniyah Province, is a 32 million dollar Bureau of
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL)
funded prison construction project built to expand
prison bed space in Iraq. The project was completed
and turned over to the GOI in March 2009. END COMMENT)

6. (SBU) On September 13, the MNF-I Deputy Commanding
General, TF-134 Commanding General and ROL met with
the Deputy MOJ, who requested that all of the BCP

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inmates (approximately 2,630) be transferred to
Chamchamal Prison by USG forces. At that time,
there were over 2,600 BCP inmates housed in four
separate ICS prisons in Baghdad that coalition forces
agreed to transfer to Chamchamal.

Emergency Activation of Chamchamal Prison

7. (SBU) Significant coordination between the ICS,
ICITAP, and Task Force 134 was required to begin the
inmate and ICO transfers to Chamchamal. The ICS
Deputy Director General (DDG), who negotiated with
the BCP inmates during the uprising, led the initial
ICO transfer to Chamchamal. The first US military
aircraft dedicated to the activation mission departed
BIAP with the DDG and 41 ICOs from Baghdad on September
17 to Sulaymaniyah Airport where the ICOs were then
bused to the Chamchamal prison. Utilizing two flights
per day over two days, coalition aircraft moved 243
ICOs to Chamchamal. Inmate transfers on US military
aircraft began on September 19. Coordinating with
the Ministry of Transportation for use of buses, the
ICS began scheduling inmates for transfer to BIAP
for loading onto military aircraft. The ICS first
bused inmates from BCP, followed by the remaining
inmates originally from BCP who were moved to three
other ICS prisons in the Baghdad area. On September
26, the final group of BCP inmates were transferred
and received at Chamchamal Prison. A total of 2,630
inmates and 273 ICOs were transferred over 10 days of
flights provided by the USG.

8. (SBU) For several months, an INL-funded ICITAP
Corrections Advisory Team had been on site at Chamchamal
with approximately 20 ICOs in anticipation of the
activation of the facility. The Corrections Advisory
Team helped to prepare the ICS staff for the receipt
of the BCP inmates. The emergency activation was
challenging not only in the movement of staff and
inmates, but also in activating, opening and developing
support services for the new Chamchamal prison.

9. (SBU) Due to the lack of an activation budget,
the ICS was ill-prepared to receive inmates at Chamchamal.
There were few inmate care items, but in daily meetings
with TF-134, ICITAP management raised these items
(mattresses, clothing, and personal hygiene items) for
possible resolution. Over a seven day period, USG
military forces were able to assemble and provide 12
CONEX containers of inmate care items for Chamchamal to
provide all basic care items for inmates by September 25.

Challenges Ahead: A Test of ICS Capability

10. (SBU) There are still several major challenges at
Chamchamal Prison to ensure fundamental support and to
establish a normal routine for a correctional facility.
The DDG is on site in Chamchamal working with the
Chamchamal Directorate of Electricity to connect the
facility to the local electrical grid. Meanwhile, the
prison is receiving power from four generators within
the prison. Some inmates need medications and medical
examinations. Medical personnel from the Chamchamal
Ministry of Health office have been asked to dedicate
staff to the facility on a 24-hour basis. A food
contractor is adjusting and using the kitchen facility
in the prison to timely provide quality food for all
the detainees and ICOs. Hiring additional support
personnel from the local community and staging for
Qpersonnel from the local community and staging for
expedited training will begin this week. Given that
the ICS has a very limited budget, on-going meetings
with MOJ and ICS executive staff will focus on building
sustainable operations.

11. (SBU) COMMENT: The future of Baghdad Central
Prison is uncertain, as it is likely to now become
a low priority for the MOJ. The MOJ,s current budget
situation will not support an immediate repair and
renovation of Baghdad Central Prison. All funding
currently available will most likely be diverted
to meet the needs of the Chamchamal activation.

© Scoop Media

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