Nearly 300 prisoners set free from Iraq jails
May 9, 2006
Nearly 300 prisoners were released from U.S.-run internment facilities in Iraq over the weekend, military officials said Monday.
All of the 299 detainees were male prisoners and were released after a review board determined they were no longer security threats, officials said.
The reviews were conducted by the Combined Review and Release Board, an American-Iraqi panel that includes government officials from the ministries of Human Rights, Justice and Interior, as well as officers from the U.S. military command.
Since being established in August 2004, “the board has reviewed the cases of more than 36,700 detainees, recommending more than 18,750 individuals for release,” a Multi-National Force–Iraq press release read.
The board reviews are held in a secret location, with no spectators allowed. The accused is not present and the cases are presented without defense lawyers.
The majority of the prisoners were released “with a guarantor” — a sheik or other official, vouching for them. In the other cases, the board voted, by a simple majority, that the detainee remained an imminent threat to the security of Iraq and should remain detained.
The board comprises two ministers each from the Iraqi Justice, Human Rights and Interior ministries, and three U.S. officers, usually of the rank of lieutenant colonel, said Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, spokesman for detainee operations. Their workload, along with that of the 10 U.S. military lawyers who present the facts, evidence and intelligence in detainees’ files to the board — with an interpreter’s help — is intense.
Some 375 cases, divided among three boards, are heard each of three days the boards sit. That translates to an average of 20 cases heard per hour, officials said earlier this year.
U.S. military officials said the recidivism rate — the number of detainees let go, then arrested again for similar activities — is an amazingly low 1.6 percent.