[JURIST] Iraq's council of ministers on Monday took the first steps to elaborate on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's national reconciliation initiative [text and press release], which he unveiled to parliament [JURIST report] Sunday. In a statement, the council said that government employees who had been detained would be reinstated to their positions and for purposes of promotion and retirement, their service would be considered uninterrupted. Detained students will also be allowed to return to schools, and will not be penalized for missing time during the school year. Al-Maliki's reconciliation plan sets out over 20 guiding principals and policies, including offering amnesty to detainees not involved in terrorist crimes, banning human rights violations, and improving prison conditions. The new initiative follows other reconciliation efforts, including the release of large numbers of detainees. The Iraqi Justice Ministry has said that US and Iraqi forces will release 453 additional detainees [VOI report] Tuesday in an ongoing campaign that has already seen over 2,000 detainees released [JURIST report].
The Sunni Endowment, a large Sunni Arab group led by cleric Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie, endorsed al-Maliki's reconciliation plan Tuesday but al-Samaraie urged officials to flesh out the details suggested that the plan include disbanding armed militias and releasing all prisoners that have not been convicted. Armed Shiite militias [CFR backgrounder] have created concern throughout Iraq, particularly after a Justice Ministry official said that militias control many of the Iraqi-run detention centers [JURIST report]. Several US senators have criticized the amnesty portion [JURIST report] of the plan as too liberal insofar as it might apply to individuals who have killed US troops, while recognizing Iraq's sovereignty and right to enforce it. AP has more.