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US reports release of thousands of Iraq detainees this year

[JURIST] The US and coalition forces have released more than 9,000 detainees in Iraq already this year, more than were released in all of 2007, according to a statement [press release] issued Wednesday by the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) [official website]. The MNF-I reported that 9,047 detainees had been released in the year to date, while 8,956 were released in 2007. The statement also indicated that coalition forces have are holding "a steadily decreasing number of individuals determined to be security threat," and have used a "holistic" assessment program to determine the level of danger present by detainees. According to the press release, less than one percent of detainees released since September 2007 have re-entered the detention system. AP has more.

Coalition detention practices have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. Earlier this month, Iraqi Foreign Minister Moshyar Zebarai [BBC profile] indicated that disagreements between the US and Iraq, including controversy concerning detainees, are still blocking a permanent Status of Forces Agreement [JURIST report] between the two countries. In June, Physicians for Human Rights released a report substantiating claims of abuse and torture [JURIST report] by detainees held in coalition prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives]. In May, a report released by the US Department of Justice found that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were present when "borderline torture" interrogation tactics were used on detainees [JURIST report], including in Iraq.

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