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Iraq government introducing bill to reinstate Baath party members

[JURIST] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki [BBC profile] and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [official website, in Arabic; BBC profile] announced plans Tuesday to present new legislation to the Iraqi National Assembly [official website] in upcoming weeks that would allow most members of Saddam Hussein's now-defunct Baath Party [BBC backgrounder] to be reinstated to public life. Under the new law, the government would be authorized to replace the DeBaathification Commission [official website] with a rehabilitation program. The DeBaathification Commission has been criticized for widely banning former party members from office without exceptions those who joined out of necessity rather than actual belief in the Baathist platform.

The law would establish a three-month window to challenge former Baath members after which they would be immune from prosecution, but would exclude Baath members who have been charged with crimes. When the Commission first planned to propose reinstatement [JURIST report] of Baath party members last November, the Bush administration urged the Iraqi government to shift the DeBaathification Commission's focus from rooting out ex-party members to promoting "accountability and reconciliation" in the interests of diminishing violence. BBC News has more.

8:46 PM ET - Members of the DeBaathification Commission criticized the proposed law Tuesday, saying the commission had not been consulted on the proposal and expressing concern that the law would only increase sectarian violence in Iraq. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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