Iraq will ask UN Security Council to lift legal immunity for Coalition forces

[JURIST] The government of Iraq [JURIST news archive] plans to ask the UN Security Council [official website] to lift Coalition troops' immunity from Iraqi law, Human Rights Minister Wijdan Michael said Monday. She indicated that a committee formed last week is preparing reports for the Iraqi Cabinet, adding that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] could present Iraq's request to the Security Council by next month. Michael blamed lax enforcement of US military law for alleged crimes by American forces against Iraqi civilians, including the rape and murders in Mahmudiya [JURIST report] that have led to charges against five current and former US soldiers. Last week, because of those allegations, al-Maliki called for the US military's immunity to be reviewed [JURIST report]. Michael said that if the Security Council denies the request to end the immunity, Iraq will ask for "an effective role in the investigations that are going on." Among other alleged offenses under investigation are the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha [JURIST news archive] last November.

A decree [PDF text] issued by the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) [official website] provided that "the MNF [Multi-National Force], the CPA, Foreign Liaison Missions, their Personnel, property, funds and assets, and all International Consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process," including "any arrest, detention or legal proceedings in Iraqi courts or other Iraqi bodies, whether criminal, civil, or administrative." When the Coalition Provisional Authority was replaced by Iraq's interim government in June 2004, the immunity language was annexed to the UN Security Council resolution [PDF text] authorizing the US-led occupation. Reuters has more.

This not the first time that Iraqi government officials have called for the lifting of the military immunity provision; in September 2005 then-Iraqi Justice Minister Abdul Hussein Shandal criticized the US military for arresting and detaining Iraqi citizens and journalists without bringing charges against them and called for either the amendment or discontinuation [JURIST report] of Resolution 1546 immunity.

 

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