Iraq’s prime minister says a US-backed prisoner release law that aims for sectarian reconciliation has helped insurgents and corruption suspects get back on the streets.
“Regrettably, the amnesty law has been changed from the conditions written by the government, and has led to the pardoning of many (accused of) corruption,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said during a Saturday gathering of Sunni and Shia tribal leaders in Baghdad.
“This will be amended and reviewed, on the basis that there is no protection for any corrupt (person) or terrorist in any legislation, or by any political power that is part of the government,” he vowed.
“Because of the addition of one word to the law, whether because of a mistake or deliberately, major terrorists have been released, because the law says that a terrorist that is not responsible for direct killings should be pardoned,” Maliki said.
Iraq’s parliament passed the amnesty law for Sunnis in February last year after pressure from Washington for legislation, which would give the country’s Sunni Arab minority, a greater role in the government.
Following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, the majority of those who carried out attacks were from the Sunni Arab minority, who had enjoyed vast privileges during Saddam Hussein’s rule at the expense of other Iraqis, despite making up less than 20 percent of the population.
In similar remarks earlier this month, Maliki blamed the hasty release of prisoners by US forces for the recent surge of violence in the country.
“The hasty release of detainees from American prisons has been one of the reasons for a renewal of terrorist activities,” Maliki said.
In early May, the US announced the release of more than 3,200 detainees since the beginning of the year and claimed that it was now holding fewer than 12,000.
The country has seen a dramatic increase in violence since February, with April ending up the bloodiest month since September 2008.