Iraq Moves Forward with Ending Contractor Immunity

by Kevin Jon Heller

The Iraqi government has released a draft of legislation that would revoke the immunity of private-security companies operating in Iraq. Here is the operative language:

Article 1: Non-Iraqi security companies and its non-Iraqi employees and contractors shall be subject to the Iraqi legislations and the jurisdiction of the Iraqi judiciary in all civil and criminal cases. All immunities granted to them in accordance with any valid legislation shall be canceled.

Article 4: This law shall be deemed as an amendment for the Dissolved CPA Order No. 17 of 2004.

The government has also sent a letter to the companies informing them of the legislation, which must still be approved by the Iraqi Parliament:

According to the directions of the Minister Council regarding [re]moving the legal immunity from all the foreign private security companies and deal with it according to Iraqi law. Please notify that in all your future missions and give the direction to all your staff. For your information all the Iraqi security departments were informed about it. The MNF confirming taking the legal actions against any violator in the future. Including signing your passports from the traveling and Jinsseya directorate to make your residence in Iraq legal. And the violator will face legal punishment from the Iraqi law.

If approved, the legislation will almost certainly lead to the private-security companies leaving Iraq. It would be hard to blame them, given the current state of the Iraqi criminal-justice system. Still, I can’t help but be bemused by the outpouring of concern for the contractors’ due process rights, both on this blog and elsewhere. Where was that concern when Saddam and his co-defendants were being tried by the IHT?

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