Iraq spruces up Abu Ghraib

Abu Ghraib prison re-opens, under the new name Baghdad Central Prison:

Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison which became notorious for detainee abuse by US forces in 2004, is being officially re-opened in a new incarnation.

It has been handed over to the Iraqis and renamed Baghdad Central Prison. The site has been extensively renovated, with upgraded facilities and amenities, including a hospital, rest rooms and visiting rooms. Work is continuing on the prison, which will eventually be the city’s main jail, holding about 12,000 inmates.

Along with the change of name, the Iraqi justice ministry is trying to change both image and reality, billing it as a model prison, open to random inspection by the Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations.

I’ve no idea how muchg of this is cosmetic, and how much represents real change, but the fact that the Iraqi authorities say there will be random inspections is a hopeful sign. Because even if we’re being cynical and think no such inspections will happen, it’s still evidence that the Iraqis want to be seen as moving in the right direction.

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