Friday, September 21, 2007

Iraq aims to end immunity of security firms

This mess is getting uglier and uglier by the day.

BTW, did you realize there are more mercenaries in Iraq (180,000) than uniformed soldiers?

Iraq wants to tighten control over security contractors after a deadly shooting incident involving the U.S. firm Blackwater, ending their long immunity from Iraqi prosecution, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

Spokesman Major-General Abdul-Kareem Khalaf said the ministry had drafted legislation giving it wider powers over the contractors and calling for "severe punishment for those who fail to adhere to the ... guidelines on how they should operate".

Iraq has said it would review the status of all security firms after what it called a flagrant assault by Blackwater contractors in which 11 people were killed while the firm was escorting a U.S. embassy convoy through Baghdad on Sunday.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki suggested the U.S. embassy should stop using Blackwater and said he would not allow Iraqis to be killed "in cold blood".

The shooting has incensed Iraqis who regard the tens of thousands of security contractors working in the country as private armies that act with impunity.

Khalaf said the new draft law, which he expected parliament to pass soon, gives the ministry powers to prosecute the companies and to refuse or revoke contracts.

Via Reuters.

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