By Spc. Charlene Apatang MendiolaMay 7, 2011
Waiting on the other side of a highly secured prison wall, Mohammed Majhoul, deputy director general for internal affairs with Iraqi Correctional Services, welcomed Maj. Gen. Adolph McQueen, deputy commanding general for detainee operations and provost marshal general of United States Forces - Iraq, as he entered the gates of the Karhk Prison, April 26.
Since its transfer last summer, the Karkh Prison, currently operated and manned by Iraqi officials, opened its gates as the new chief of detainee operations made his first tour around the facility.
The objective was to conduct an assessment of the facility and operations as the U.S. prepares to hand over the remaining detainees to the government of Iraq, McQueen said.
"As we prepare to transfer detainees and transition operations to the government of Iraq, the mission of safety and control of detainees here on Camp Cropper must remain," McQueen said.
"My goal is to ensure that we continue to comply with all the standards of the Geneva Conventions while providing care, custody and protection of the detainees," he said.
Although the Iraqi correction system still has its gaps, McQueen says that the U.S. will continue to advise, assist and train Iraqi personnel up to the point of the transition.
"We currently have advisors from the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program who work with Warden Jalal Abbas and correction officers every day in the prison," said Col. Jeffery Brotherton, director of detainee operations with USF-I Provost Marshal Office. "They provide us a report of current conditions and training preparations for the transition."
Months after its transfer, the prison continues to receive support and guidance from the U.S.
The National Corrections Training Center partnered with ICITAP advisors train the Iraqi correction officers to operate in a maximum security facility while building a guard force, Brotherton said.
Wardens are also being trained to gain a better understanding, while adhering to the standard of care required for detainees, McQueen said.
Most of the prisoners in Iraq were turned over to the Iraqis on July 15, 2010. At the request of the Iraqi government at the time, the U.S. remained in control of over 200 prisoners.
The Cropper Theater Internment Facility is a maximum security jail run by the 40th Military Police Battalion. The facility houses the most sensitive and dangerous prisoners - former members of Saddam Hussein's regime, as well as Al Qaeda.
"Our mission of care, custody and control with dignity and respect for the detainees encompasses everything from food, shelter, and medical care," said Lt. Col. Erica Nelson, commander for 40th MP Bn. "I want to keep that mission running until the day we transfer responsibility to the GoI."
"From what I have observed, it appears that Warden Jalal Abbas has a full and complete understanding of the correctional operations," McQueen said. "He continues to apply the standards of custody in his facility."
The Iraqi officials are prepared to receive the remaining detainees in a safe and secure environment with well-trained and competent security guards, McQueen said. The initial observation of this prison displays the determination and professionalism the Iraqis have in managing their forces as the U.S finalizes its mission at the end of 2011.