Tuesday, September 18, 2007


CRS report on Private Security Contractors in Iraq

Congressional Research Service (CRS) - Private Security Contractors in Iraq:
Background, Legal Status, and Other Issues – Updated July 2007
The United States is relying heavily on private firms to supply a wide variety of
services in Iraq, including security. From the information available in published
sources, this apparently is the first time that the United States has depended on
contractors to provide such extensive security in a hostile environment, although it
has previously contracted for more limited security services in Afghanistan, Bosnia,
and elsewhere. In Iraq, private firms known as Private Security Companies (PSC)
are currently providing security services such as the protection of individuals, nonmilitary
transport convoys, buildings and other economic infrastructure, as well as
the training of Iraqi police and military personnel.
Legal Status and Authorities
Contractors to the coalition forces in Iraq operate under three levels of legal
authority: (1) the international order of the laws and usages of war and resolutions
of the United Nations Security Council; (2) U.S. law; and (3) Iraqi law, including
orders of the CPA (CPA Order number 17) that have not been superceded. Under the authority of
international law, contractors working with the military are civilian non-combatants
whose conduct may be attributable to the United States.44 Iraqi courts do not have
jurisdiction to prosecute them for conduct related to their contractual responsibilities
without the permission of the Sending State.45 Some contractors, particularly U.S.
nationals, may be prosecuted in U.S. federal courts or military courts under certain
Blackwater said its guards reacted "lawfully and appropriately" to a hostile attack. It said late on Monday it had received no official notice from Iraq's Interior Ministry.
U.S. officials in Baghdad have yet to clarify the legal status of foreign security contractors in Iraq, including whether they could be prosecuted by Iraqi authorities.
Many Iraqis see the contractors, who have worked in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003, as private armies that have acted for too long with impunity. "These cases have happened more than once and we can't keep silent in the face of them," Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said on Monday.
Ministry spokesman Brigadier-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Iraq did have the right to take action if the Blackwater force had fired on civilians. "Definitely we have the right. If they committed this act this should be tried," he said.

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