By Spc. Kevin Holden, 2nd BCT PAO, 1st Armd. Div., MND-BApril 2, 2009
BAGHDAD - Twenty-two Iraqi men pledged to their sheiks and family members they would abide by the laws of Iraq at a reconciliation ceremony held at Joint Security Station Doura, March 27. The men had been detained in Coalition forces detention centers for various criminal acts and were released after the ceremony.
Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, currently attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, provided transportation and security for the detainees, family members and local sheiks.
In order to be released each detainee's record is reviewed to ensure their release is appropriate and consistent with the security agreement between the U.S. and Government of Iraq. Coalition forces release detainees who will no longer pose an imminent threat to the security and stability of Iraq.
At each detention center a review board consisting of three members recommends the release or continued confinement of the detainee based on whether the board believes the detainee will continue to be a threat to Iraqi Security Forces, CF and the Iraqi people. Those detainees deemed to be extremely dangerous are processed through the Iraqi criminal justice system.
The detainees who are recommended for release then have their case file reviewed several more times to ensure each detainee is released in a safe and orderly manner which is consistent with the standards of the Geneva Convention.
At the detention camps, the men are offered education programs in reading, English, the importance of civics, religion, employment skills and many are allowed family member visits.
Over the last three months, approximately 300 detainees have been released by Coalition forces in southern Baghdad. The 22 former detainees were transferred to the National Police in Doura, and had their photo and personal information taken for identification purposes.
The detainees are released from custody and transferred to the Iraqi criminal justice system. At the reconciliation ceremonies, the former detainees pledge to remain law abiding citizens and are handed over to their sheik leaders. The sheiks are then responsible for the released men and assist in providing employment opportunities.
"I believe this detainee release program can be successful if the NPs and sheik leaders communicate and maintain a good relationship," said Wauchula, Fla. native, Capt. Dallas Cheatham, commander, Co. B, 1-505th, PIR.
Once the transfer of detainees has been made to the NP, personal information is processed and local sheik leaders sign paperwork and assume responsibility as the guarantor of the individuals. After the sheik leaders speak with the former detainees, they are reunited with family and friends and have the opportunity for employment with local contractors.
Iraq does not have a probation system or probation officers like the United States to monitor the former detainees that rejoin the local population, according to 1st Lt. Percy Vela, a native of Queens, N.Y., and the fire support officer for Co. B, 1-505 PIR.
The detainee release program will continue between CF and the GoI to ensure every potential release considers the protection and security of the Iraqi citizens who will receive the former detainees back into their communities.