US military frees 60 Iraq detainees as part of Ramadan release program

[JURIST] US military forces in Iraq released 60 detainees Wednesday as part of Operation Lion's Paw [press release], an ongoing effort to increase the number of Iraqi detainees released daily to at least 50 [JURIST report] during the month of Ramadan, which ends Saturday. Organized by the Iraqi government and the Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) [official website], the program requires that detainees be screened by a special review process to determine that they are no longer a threat before they are released under the Pledge Program, described by MNF-I as an effort "to deter detainees from engaging in misconduct after their release and enhances the relationship between the Iraqi courts and Coalition forces by incorporating Iraqi judges into the detainee release process." The detainees are required to take an oath before promising to lead a peaceful life, and during Wednesday's session, several of the detainees interrupted the presiding Iraqi judge to say that they had been unjustly detained.

US forces still hold more than 25,000 Iraqis in custody and about 10,000 more total detainees than one year ago. Deputy Commander of Detainee Operations Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone told AP that the military is currently taking 60 people per day into custody across Iraq. Most are held for about one year. The increase in detainees, largely attributed to new security plans [AFPS report] instituted in February, has contributed to overcrowding in Iraq prisons [JURIST report] and rising allegations of detainee abuse [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

 

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