First Published: 2007-10-24

 
Iraq revokes security contractors' immunity
 

Iraq cabinet to discuss new laws dealing with private security companies operating in Iraq.

 

Middle East Online

By Ammar Karim - BAGHDAD

Will they really become accountable to the law?

The Iraqi government announced on Wednesday that it has decided to formally revoke the immunity from prosecution granted to private security companies operating in the war-ravaged country.

"The cabinet held a meeting yesterday and decided to scrap the article pertaining to security companies operating in Iraq that was issued by the CPA (Coalition Provision Authority) in 2004," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

"It has decided to present a new law regarding this issue which will be taken in the next cabinet meeting."

Article 1 of Section 2 of CPA order 17 issued by then US administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, stipulates that the "multinational force, foreign liaison missions, their personnel, property, funds and assets and all international consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process."

The immunity granted to private contractors has become controversial since a series of shootings involving foreign security guards, the most infamous of them a September 16 shooting in which employees of the Blackwater firm killed 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.

The Blackwater guards opened fire when they were escorting a US State Department convoy through a Baghdad neighbourhood.

On October 9 guards of Australian security company Unity Resources Group fired upon a car in central Baghdad killing two women, and on October 18 guards of a British security company fired on a car wounding three people.

On Tuesday, the US government also moved to clamp down on Blackwater and other private security firms in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Officials said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was adopting "immediately" the recommendations of a review panel that exposed a worrying legal impunity for security guards working in the two countries.

The panel was led by Patrick Kennedy, the State Department's director of management policy, who said "the issue is to do the job in such a way that you minimize the risk to protectees and to any innocent Iraqis who happen to be in the area that a convoy is moving through."

In an implicit admonishment, the Kennedy panel stressed that private contractors should open fire only with "due regard for the safety of innocent bystanders."

The Blackwater shooting laid bare a lack of accountability for firms working for the US State Department rather than the Pentagon, whose private contractors are covered by US military law.

Washington has been increasingly dependent on contractors to protect its civilian staff in Iraq as the military has been fully occupied tackling insurgents and militias.

 

13 dead, 100 injured in two Spanish seaside city attacks

Israel freezes implementation of settlement law

Erdogan meddles in German politics

Saudi Arabia installing cranes at Yemen ports

Civilians stay on frontlines despite dangers in Raqa

IS fighters almost encircled in Syrian desert

For Israel, White House ties trump neo-Nazis and antisemitism

Iran reform leader ends hunger strike

Van ploughs through pedestrians in Barcelona terror attack

13 killed in Barcelona van attack

Iraq acknowledges abuses in Mosul campaign

Netanyahu under fire for response to US neo-Nazism

Israel to free high-profile suspects in money laundering probe

Spanish police shut down jet-ski migrant smugglers

Syrian actress, activist Fadwa Suleiman dies in Paris

Israeli court extends detention for Islamic cleric over ‘incitement’

UAE to provide $15 million a month to Gaza

Sudan's Bashir 'satisfied' with Nile dam project

US-backed rebels say American presence in Syria to last ‘decades’

Tunisian clerics oppose equal inheritance rights for women

Israel strikes almost 100 Hezbollah arms convoys in 5 years

UN hopes for eighth round of Syria talks before year’s end

LONG READ: How Syria continues to evade chemical weapons justice

Civilians killed in US-led raids on Raqa

Qatari pilgrims begin flooding into Saudi by land

Turkey arrests 9 more journalists for alleged ‘Gulen links’

Iran’s Karroubi on hunger strike over 6-year house arrest

Saudi Arabia to restart work on Grand Mosque expansion

Algeria reshuffles cabinet, nominates three new ministers

Syria rebels lose heavyweight faction

ICC orders Mali ex-jihadist pay 2.7 m euros for Timbuktu destruction

Libya seeks to ‘organise’ NGOs carrying migrant rescue Ops

More than one million South Sudan refugees in Uganda

Beirut, Damascus pledge to boost economic ties

Two killed on Gaza-Egypt border

Qataris to do hajj on Saudi king expenses

Fire breaks out at UNESCO heritage site in Saudi Arabia

Iran military chief in Turkey for talks on Syrian war

Saudi Electricity announces $1.75b in international loans

Israel to strip Jazeera journalist of press credentials

Bahrain state media accuses Qatar of trying to topple regime

Iran's Khamenei blasts US over Charlottesville

Libyan forces snub ICC over warrant for commander

Iran’s detained opposition leader starts hunger strike

Saudi Arabia, Iraq draw closer with wary eye on Iran