[JURIST] US military forces in Iraq released 500 detainees at a joint ceremony with the Iraqi government on Thursday at Camp Victory outside Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [JURIST news archive], speaking to the newly released detainees on Thursday, said the release is part of an effort to harmonize relations between the Shiite and Sunni populations. Sunnis claim that as many as 90 percent of all detainees are Sunnis, which they attribute to the high number of Shiites serving in the official security forces.
During the Islamic month of Ramadan, which ended in early October, the Iraqi government and the Multi-National Force Iraq [official website] stepped up the detainee release program, increasing the number of Iraqis released daily to 50 [JURIST report]. US forces still hold more than 25,000 Iraqis in custody and about 10,000 more total detainees than one year ago. 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.