Nomination Trouble for the De-Baathification Appellate Bench

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Remember the special appeals court for de-Baathification cases? That’s the Iraqi judicial entity of seven judges that came into existence in January 2010 in a supposed attempt at harmonising the laws in force on de-Baathification with the process of vetting candidates for the March 2010 parliamentary elections. Of course, that attempt failed miserably and resulted in gross miscarriage of justice against hundreds of candidates, including such prominent Iraqiyya figures as Salih al-Mutlak who was barred from participating on the basis of a non-existing law.

While it is true that the Iraqi federal supreme court must shoulder ultimate responsibility for the failure to apply due legal process to the mechanisms of electoral candidate approval back in early 2010, the de-Baathification appeals court also played a certain role. However, after the parliamentary elections the court has been less prominent and the reason is very simple: After two judges were pensioned and one was killed, by September 2010 it no longer had any quorum to make decisions.

Early attempts by the Iraqi parliament to install replacement judges were aborted thanks not least to the efforts of the militantly anti-Baathist Bahaa al-Aaraji of the Sadrist movement. Last week, another attempt was made (the Sadrist are also worried about the lack of quorum on the court, since “Baathists continue to serve in government”), but again the process ran into trouble: Only two new judges were approved, whereas two others were left unconfirmed – ostensibly pending the examination of their curricula vitae by parliament, but with rumours about past Baathist ties swirling around (and with Maliki allies in his State of Law alliance featuring prominently in the proliferation of those accusations).

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