Baghdad Operations Command spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said that the women’s prison is under control and no human rights violations take place there. In declarations to Mawtani’s correspondent, Atta indicated that media outlets have recently quoted various non-official groups as saying that prison security guards have sexually assaulted prisoners during the current month of May. They have also spoken of other human rights violations. The media reports also say that the prison cells are overcrowded, packed with over 4,000 prisoners.
According to the Baghdad Operations Command spokesman, after these reports appeared the office of the Armed Forces Commander in Chief, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, ordered that a commission be formed to investigate the facts and uncover the truth of what occurs inside this prison. He requested that a report with results of the investigation be completed as soon as possible. Major General Atta said, “A nine-person commission was indeed formed and they headed immediately to the women’s prison, to prepare a detailed report on what goes on there. The commission produced the report 24 hours later. The report notes that there are many mistakes and falsehoods in what was stated in the media.” The government report begins with information on the prison’s location, on the Al-Rasafa side rather than a remote location on the Al-Karkh side, as the media reports alleged. Official figures provided by the prison administration state that there are only 235 prisoners and no problem of overcrowding in prison cells.
According to Major General Atta, the government report asserted that allegations of sexual assaults committed by prison security guards against detainees are baseless. This is because the prison guards and staff that deal directly with the prisoners are all women. There are no males in the prison, except for those standing along the prison walls, which are very far from the cells. These men are not allowed near the cells. He confirmed that the investigations were not limited to the prison administration and guards, but also included interrogations with prisoners, who denied having been raped or sexually assaulted. The report also noted that the food rationing is conducted properly, with three main meals distributed throughout the day.
The Baghdad Operations Command spokesman confirmed to Mawtani that the government commission made a surprise visit to the women’s prison to obtain precise information regarding what goes on inside the prison. He called on the media to aim for accuracy in reporting information and verifying the facts before publishing them, as this harmed those that are most vigilant in following their duty to apply the law. Atta noted that the report identified some shortcomings in the administration of the women’s prison, adding that work is being done to correct them. These problems, though, do not reach the level of violation attributed to them.