June 24, 2004 – The same day the US withdrew a proposed UN resolution exempting American personnel from prosecution for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, anonymous "US officials" told the Washington Post that the US plans to extend immunity for all US and coalition personnel from Iraqi courts beyond the June 30 hand-over of what Washington calls "sovereignty." Since last June, the Coalition Provisional Authorityâ€™s "Order 17" has granted Coalition personnel impunity from "local criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction and from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their parent states." Private contractors working for the Coalition are also protected, "immune from Iraqi Legal Process with respect to acts performed by them within their official activities."
The administration wants to extend Order 17â€™s immunity rules for at least six months -- though protection for contracted private security forces, already exempt from US military jurisdiction, is still being negotiated, the Post reports. Coalition personnel would still be subject to their own countriesâ€™ laws. The Post calls the move an "unusual step" implemented in order to protect the interim government from having to waive charges against coalition personnel, and notes that the transitional laws returning governing power to Iraq "may be considered too weak a foundation for granting immunity." A final plan is expected within the week.