[JURIST] The Iraqi Cabinet announced an amendment to the De-Baathification law on Monday that would allow thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's now-defunct Baath party [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to serve in the public sector and receive pensions. The proposed amendment would allow former Baath party branch chiefs to rejoin the public sector and provide pensions to members of Fedayeen Saddam [CFR backgrounder], a paramilitary group once operated by Saddam's eldest son, Uday Hussein [BBC backgrounder]. The amendment must still pass through the Iraqi parliament [official website], which is expected to provide opposition [AAP report] to the proposed changes. The changes are believed to be aimed as concessions to protesters who have accused [WP report] the Shiite led government under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile; JURISTnews archive] of unfairly restricting Sunni rights.
Iraq set up a De-Baathification Commission in 2003 with the approval of the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority, and its early agenda was removing members of Hussein's Baath party from positions of power in the Iraqi government, prompting the forced removal [JURIST report] of nearly 30,000 Baathists from public life. In February 2008 the Accountability and Justice Law [text, PDF] was approved [JURIST report] by Iraq's three-member Presidency Council. In January 2008 the Iraqi parliament approved a bill [JURIST report] allowing most members of the Baath party to be reinstated to public life.