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Draft Iraq status of forces pact authorizes Iraqi trials of US troops for crimes off base

[JURIST] US and Iraqi negotiators Wednesday agreed on a draft for a Status of Forces Agreement [CFR materials] that gives Iraqi courts limited jurisdiction over American military personnel. According to Iraqi officials quoted by AP Wednesday, the draft agreement requires US troops to face trial before Iraqi courts for major crimes committed off base when the troops are not on an authorized mission. The US would retain the right to prosecute troops and private contractors for crimes committed on base and while troops are on authorized missions. The current draft agreement will likely face resistance in the US Congress, where many lawmakers are wary of subjecting American troops to any foreign judicial jurisdiction. AP has more.

The draft agreement has been delayed [JURIST report] by months of negotiation. If passed by lawmakers in each country, it will extend the role of US forces in Iraq through 2011. The current UN mandate authorizing a US troop presence in Iraq expires in December [UN press release]. In late June, the US agreed to eliminate legal immunity for US contractors [JURIST report] from the proposed agreement, and suggested that it might concede US control of Iraqi airspace. The US continued to push for immunity for US troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts and the right to hold detainees independent of Iraqi review.

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