Iraqi gov't approves draft law lifting immunity from security contractors

The Iraqi government on Tuesday approved draft legislation lifting immunity for foreign private security companies, sending the measure to parliament, a spokesman said. The question of immunity has been one of the most serious dispute between the US and the Iraqi government since a Sept. 16 shooting incident involving Blackwater USA guards that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the draft law approved Tuesday would overturn an immunity order known as Decree 17 that was issued by L. Paul Bremer, who ran the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) until June 2004. "It will be sent to the parliament within the coming days to be ratified," he told The Associated Press. "According to this law, all security companies will be subjected to the Iraqi criminal law and must obey all the country's legal regulations such as: registration, customs, visas, etcetera."