Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blackwater: Free to Kill

This details the legal situation of Blackwater and other private contractors in Iraq who work for the occupation. So much for Iraq sovereignty.


What happens to private contractors who kill Iraqis? Maybe nothing
Blackwater USA employees are accused of killing several civilians, but there might not be anyone with the authority to prosecute them.

By Alex Koppelman and Mark Benjamin



An incident this past weekend in which employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm that has become controversial for its extensive role in the war in Iraq, allegedly opened fire on and killed several Iraqis seems to be the last straw for Iraqi tolerance of the company. Iraqi government officials have promised action, including but not limited to the suspension or outright revocation of the company's license to operate in Iraq.

But pulling Blackwater's license may be all the Iraqis can do. Should any Iraqis ever seek redress for the deaths of the civilians in a criminal court, they will be out of luck. Because of an order promulgated by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the now-defunct American occupation government, there appears to be almost no chance that the contractors involved would be, or could be, successfully prosecuted in any court in Iraq. CPA Order 17 says private contractors working for the U.S. or coalition governments in Iraq are not subject to Iraqi law. Should any attempt be made to prosecute Blackwater in the United States, meanwhile, it's not clear what law, if any, applies.

"Blackwater and all these other contractors are beyond the reach of the justice process in Iraq. They can not be held to account," says Scott Horton, who chairs the International Law Committee at the New York City Bar Association. "There is nothing [the Iraqi government] can do that gives them the right to punish someone for misbehaving or doing anything else."

No comments: