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.

 

War-torn Syria gears towards 'cessation of hostilities'

Italian PM warns Egypt friendship on the line

Yemen loyalist forces advance towards Sanaa

S.Sudan president names arch-rival his deputy

Berlin film fest competition kicks off with Arab film

Israel denies dropping controversial Brazil envoy pick

Tunisia prepares for possible intervention in Libya

UAE to deploy jets, commandos in anti-IS campaign

100,000 refugees in Syria border camps near Turkey

Greece given three-month ultimatum to remedy border ‘deficiencies’

Ankara hails world powers' Syria ceasefire plan

Five Yemen police killed in ‘Qaeda’ attack in Aden

Kuwait to finalise Eurofighter jet deal with Italy

Iraqi PM urges Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence

Russia accuses US planes of hitting Aleppo

Anti-ISIS coalition looks to decisive new phase

Turkey, Israel open new normalisation talks

Assault on Aleppo displaces tens of thousands

Moroccan King inaugurates Aquaculture Farm in Oued Ed-dahab

Turkish forces end operation in southern town

NATO launches unprecedented Aegean migrant naval mission

Erdogan threatens to send millions of refugees to EU

Suspected PKK militants attack two Turkey pro-govt newspapers

Train derails in Egypt’s Bani Sueif province

Iranians mark 37 years since Islamic revolution

Moscow ready to discuss modalities of ceasefire in Syria

Egypt hires UK firm to review Sharm security

Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president

Turkey dismisses pressure to open borders as 'hypocritical'

Efforts to form Libya unity government stumble over defence portfolio

Iran blames failure of Syria peace talks on participation of ‘terrorists’

Syria opposition hopes for end of sieges

UAE names women state ministers in major government shake-up

French Foreign Minister steps down with criticism of US role in Syria

Germany hopes Syria talks in Munich will agree to provide aid

Syrian Kurdish separatists open Moscow representation

Jordan rejects France extradition request for 1982 terror attack suspects

Libya parliament extends deadline for formation of new unity government

Herzog wants Israel to begin separation from Palestinian areas

Khomeini grandson loses appeal against exclusion from Iran elections

Turkey, US split deepens over support for Syria Kurds

EU tells members to accelerate refugee relocation

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in India: String of trade, security deals expected

Syria regime's Aleppo offensive kills more than 500

Ex-Israeli PM’s prison sentence extended