Iraq’s parliament has postponed discussions on a controversial amnesty law that could see thousands of convicted and suspected killers released from jail.
Opponents of the bill say it would trample on the rights of victims and their families in order to achieve a political objective whose success is uncertain.
A parliamentary debate on the amnesty law was delayed several times in -October, because the various political factions disagreed on its term. By October 15, it was clear the expected vote was not going to happen, and the matter was postponed until further notice.
One of the bill’s backers, parliamentarian Khalid al-Jaiyashi of the Shia-dominated National Iraqi Alliance, says it is designed to “give a second chance to those who were forced into criminality”.
It remains unclear exactly which categories of convicts will be included in the final draft.
As well as common criminals, it is clear the law would cover at least some of those convicted of murder and other serious crimes during the wave of militant attacks and sectarian warfare that followed the United States-led invasion of 2003.
The violence was at its worse in 2006-07 with a complex set of conflicts involving Sunni and Shia militias and al-Qaeda linked militants, often resulting in the random slaughter of civilians just because they lived in an area dominated by the “wrong” group. Thousands of Iraqis were killed, and hundreds of thousands more displaced.