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US, Iraq open investigation into latest private contractor civilian shootings

[JURIST] US and Iraqi officials said Wednesday that they have launched an investigation into Iraqi civilian deaths believed to be caused by armed guards working for security and defense company Unity Resources Group [corporate website]. Two women were killed in shootings that occurred on Tuesday in Baghdad. Unity was hired by US-based RTI International [corporate website] to provide security services in Iraq for RTI. US officials said that RTI is under contract with the US government, but that the government had no responsibility in arranging security for the company.

An Iraqi government investigation [JURIST report] into a separate shooting last month found that that Blackwater USA [corporate website] private security guards deliberately shot Iraqi civilians during a September shooting incident and recommended that the government seek extradition [JURIST reports] of the Blackwater agents implicated in the shooting. In response to domestic outrage, the Iraqi Interior Ministry proposed draft legislation [JURIST report] last month to place private security contractors under Iraqi legal jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives has passed a bill to effectively end the "de facto immunity" [JURIST reports] enjoyed by many private contractors working for the US in Iraq and expand US court jurisdiction to all US civilian contractors working in combat zones. US contractors are currently not subject to prosecution in Iraqi courts due to an exemption [PDF text] granted in the days of the Coalition Provisional Authority. AP has more.

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