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US transfers 39 detained Saddam-era officials to Iraq government

[JURIST] The US military reported on Tuesday the transfer of 39 high-value detainees [press release] from the custody of US-led multinational force to an Iraqi controlled prison. The detainees were all former members of the regime of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], and have already been convicted or are scheduled to stand trial at the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) [JURST news archive]. According the US military, the transfer was facilitated by the improvements made in the Iraqi prison system and courts. More than 15,000 detainees remain in the custody of the coalition.

The recent transfer of detainees to the Iraqi government is part of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF; CFR backgrounder] passed last month [JURIST report]. Under the SOFA, the coalition must transfer the remaining detainees into the custody of the Iraqi government. Detainees who have not been charged with a crime will be released. A recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report criticized the CCCI [JURIST report], stating that detainees often wait months or even years before standing trial. The report also alleged that trials in the CCCI often do not meet international fair trial standards.

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