Beatings, sexual violence, cells that stink of human waste, prisoners jammed six to a cell and suffering from skin rashes: These are the stories coming out of an Iraqi detention center where detainees are said to be held for months without a trial—despite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s promises of reform. The Green Zone jail, known as Camp Honor, is run by a unit that Maliki’s office oversees, and sources say the unit restricts prisoners’ access to lawyers and family—and some have been held for as long as two years.
The facility, and the forces that run it, are a kind of symbol of Maliki’s attempts to centralize power, as a post-Saddam Iraq debates how much power one person should be allowed to have, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Baghdad Brigade, which runs the detention center along with the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism bureau and is said to report directly to Maliki, came under increased scrutiny last year when a secret prison was discovered and its 431 Sunni Arab detainees claimed torture at the hands of their interrogators—some of whom came from the Green Zone jail. Maliki promised at that time to rein in the jail, and the Human Rights Ministry has demanded it be shut down, but sources say allegations of abuse have continued.