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Iraq: Administration of Justice

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which prosecuting authority has responsibility to prosecute alleged criminal offences committed by contractors working for HM Government in Iraq. (205426)

Jurisdiction over contractors working for the government in Iraq is covered by Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 17 (Revised) (CPA17).

Under CPA17, contractors are not subject to Iraqi laws and regulations in matters relating to the terms and conditions of their contracts. But the provisions of CPA17 are without prejudice to the exercise of jurisdiction by the sending state and the state of nationality of a contractor in accordance with applicable laws. The sending state may, however, waive immunity for contractors if requested.

If any personnel, employed by organisations contracted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), were suspected of committing a crime in Iraq, but appeared to be immune from Iraqi legal process, the FCO would refer them to the disciplinary authority of their employing organisation with a view to having them removed from our contract in Iraq. The FCO would also bring the matter to the attention of the UK police and/or the authorities of the individual's nationality. The decision whether to pursue a UK criminal investigation, and ultimately whether a prosecution should be undertaken in an individual case, would be a matter for the UK police and prosecuting authorities, acting independently from the Government.

In the case of suspected non-criminal misconduct, we would take up the matter with the employing organisation, and either investigate the matter or have the employing organisation do so and report to us, depending on the circumstances and the nature of the allegations.