Following a letter from Congressman Robert Pittenger urging stiffer penalties against Chinese state-affiliated companies which violate Iran sanctions laws, the Commerce Department has issued a subpoena to Huawei Technologies. According to The New York Times, Commerce is seeking documents related to Huawei’s alleged role in selling embargoed technology to the Iranian government. Huawei is closely affiliated with the Chinese government.
In April, Congressman Pittenger wrote the Commerce Department, co-signed by 22 Members of Congress, expressing concern over questionable enforcement of embargoes intended to prevent Iran from acquiring technology which could be used to oppress human rights.
Congressman David Price (D-N.C.) and Congressman Darell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced a bill to provide accountability for American contractors and government employees working abroad. The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA) builds on efforts in previous Congresses to close a gap in current law to ensure that government employees and contractors working overseas are not immune from prosecution for criminal acts.
The number of private contractors employed by the U.S. government overseas has increased dramatically in recent years, even surpassing the number of U.S. military and civilian personnel in some locations, particularly as the U.S. reduces its military footprint in Iraq and Afghanistan. While contractors are increasingly performing functions once reserved for government personnel, they are held to a different legal standard than uniformed personnel because the laws governing their activities remain unclear and outdated.
The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act will allow the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute government contractors and employees for certain crimes committed overseas. Tragedies like the 2007 killing of unarmed civilians in Baghdad by private security contractors with Blackwater underscore the need for clear jurisdiction and trained investigative and prosecutorial task forces able to hold wrongdoers accountable.
The bill will complement the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), which provides similar criminal jurisdiction over Department of Defense employees and contractors but does not clearly apply to U.S. contractors working overseas for other federal agencies, such as the Department of State. The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act was originally enacted in 2000, with additional improvements to the law secured in 2004. As the United States military withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving behind thousands of civilian government employees and contractors, the broader jurisdictional scope of CEJA will become a critical accountability tool.
The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act will:
Charles B. Rangel (D-NY, 13th) wished Islam a great Ramadan.
A recent unanimous Supreme Court ruling in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc. allows private property owners to appeal how their land is classified by the Corps, and therefore the types of regulations land is subject to, in Federal court.