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Transfer of Iraq detainees under security pact concerns rights groups

[JURIST] Iraqi human rights activists are concerned about the treatment of detainees due to be transferred from US military custody to Iraqi authorities under the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [CFR materials; McClatchy translation], according to an IRIN report [text] Monday. The pact, approved the Iraqi cabinet [JURIST report] on Sunday and awaiting approval from the country's parliament, calls for roughly 17,000 detainees to be turned over within 24 hours [IRIN report] of its acceptance. Iraqi Minister of Women's Affairs Nawal al-Samaraie, the only cabinet member who voted against the agreement [AP report], said detainees who are not charged with a specific crime should be released. The Iraqi parliament began SOFA hearings [UPI report] on Monday, with a final vote expected sometime after November 24.

Earlier this month, Iraqi Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi called for a national referendum [JURIST report] on the agreement. Last month, Human Rights Watch called for a provision [JURIST report] in the agreement to shield detainees from being transferred in order to prevent their torture. In August, officials for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry said they planned to prosecute [JURIST report] those suspected of torturing inmates of the country's prison system.

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