Iraq's cabinet approved a draft bill today that would allow foreign security contractors such as Blackwater to be prosecuted under local law, Reuters reports. The bill would scrap Order 17—a hotly debated 2004 decree that protects contractors from prosecution—as well as require contractors to register for Iraqi licenses, apply for entry visas, and be subject to searches at Iraqi police checkpoints.
The law still must be approved by the parliament. Iraq says there are more than 180 mainly US and European security companies working within its borders. Iraqi efforts to rescind Order 17 never gained traction until the Sept. 16 killing of 17 Iraqis by Blackwater contractors. US investigators yesterday were reported to have given immunity to the guards involved, a charge since refuted by the State Department.