Iraq Rape Case, Stresses Dire Need for Arbitration Reform

June 10, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Former Halliburton employee and gang rape victim, Jamie Leigh Jones is seeking justice for herself and all other women who have been raped while working overseas for government contractors, who have been denied their day in court due to insidious binding mandatory clauses and callous employers.

Halliburton, its subsidiary KBR, and the employees who raped Jones, have faced no criminal or civil consequences for their actions, leaving the physically and emotionally damaged Jones to question if certain corporations are immune from the law.

Halliburton/KBR denies responsibility for Jones’ rape, allowed the employees involved to stay on the job after she left Iraq, declined to ensure that the responsible employees faced criminal charges, and now claim they can’t be sued in court either, pointing to a mandatory arbitration clause in Jones’ employment contract.

Jones was just 20-years old and in Iraq for just four days, when she was drugged and viciously gang-raped in 2005 by Halliburton/KBR co-workers, leaving her severely bruised and bleeding, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn.

She required reconstructive surgery to repair her injuries, which left her breasts permanently disfigured and she will require additional operations.

When the effects of the date rape drug began to wear off, she found herself in her bunk, naked and in pain, finding one of her rapists, Halliburton firefighter, Charles Boartz sleeping at the bottom of her bed, unconcerned about suffering any consequences. When she asked him what happened, he admitted to having unprotected sex with her.

What happened next, illustrates how corporations and the government behave when they know they can operate outside the law and virtually get away with murder. Laws put in place primarily under the Bush administration, provided contractors in Iraq with immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law and by extension, U.S. law.

The Halliburton firefighters who raped her in the Baghdad Green Zone that day, realized the actions of their employer as well as their own actions, while working in Iraq, were completely outside the law. When they saw the pretty young Jones, they took what they wanted, unconstrained by criminal laws, which may have worked to curb their behavior.

An examination by Army doctors showed multiple men raped her repeatedly, both vaginally and anally.

Instead of offering assistance and medical treatment to the frightened Jones suffering from severe physical and emotional trauma, Halliburton/KBR only offered her threats and intimidation.

When her Halliburton/KBR employers learned of the rape, they went into damage control mode, essentially imprisoning Jones, placing her in a sparse shipping container, under armed guard, without medical treatment, food or water and did not allow her to leave, refusing her access to a phone.

Finally a guard let her use his cell phone and she was able to reach her father, “Dad, I’ve been raped. I don’t know what to do. I’m in this container, and I’m not able to leave,” said Jones.

Jones’ father immediately contacted his Representative Ted Poe, of Texas who contacted the State Department. Eventually, agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad rescued Jones from the container and helped her leave Iraq for medical treatment.

Realizing her attackers will never be criminally prosecuted for their crimes, Jones filed a civil lawsuit against Halliburton/KBR, Charles Boartz and her other unnamed attackers seeking to hold her former employer accountable.

Halliburton/KBR claims its immune from being sued in court and the only recourse she has is through the closed, secret private arbitration system. Corporations win the vast majority of private arbitration cases. Essentially, it’s a rigged system, designed to deprive victims of legal redress when they are harmed by corporate behavior.

Just about every contract signed by consumers today contains an insidious clause hidden in the fine print, called pre-dispute mandatory binding arbitration. If you have a credit card, signed a cell phone contract or had work done on your house, you have unknowingly signed away your rights to sue in court.

Corporations have used mandatory arbitration clauses to effectively operate without the constraints of the U.S. judicial system.

Jamie Leigh Jones is fighting to change the unfair and runaway use of mandatory arbitration clauses used by corporations, to avoid consequences for the harm they cause to people. Jones has testified before Congress in support of a Bill reforming the laws forcing arbitration on victims.

Recently, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act, which would ban clauses that make arbitration mandatory for the resolution of disputes, restoring the right for Americans to have their day in court.

Richard M. Alderman of the University of Houston Law Center, stated in an article supporting the passage of Arbitration reform that “… the widespread, in fact near universal, use of consumer arbitration conflicts with the core American belief in separation of powers.”

The Feingold Bill doesn’t prohibit arbitration altogether, but would prevent a corporation with greater bargaining power from forcing individuals into arbitration through a contractual provision, and provides a true choice to consumers to retain their right to sue in court.

Jamie Leigh Jones is now the face of the dire need for arbitration reform. Corporations should not be permitted to operate outside of the law and harm American citizens without suffering consequences.

Contact your Senator and show your support for the passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Iraq Rape Case, Stresses Dire Need for Arbitration Reform”

  1. Iraq Rape Case, Stresses Dire Need for Arbitration Reform « AddingInfo.com on June 10th, 2009 4:20 pm

    […] its subsidiary KBR, and … Read Full Post: Iraq Rape Case, Stresses Dire Need for Arbitration Reform Adding Related Info:Chargesheet filed against seven persons in nun rape case – Hindustan […]

  2. Old Man Dotes on June 10th, 2009 5:16 pm

    The problem here is that Dick Cheney’s cronies (such as Halliburton) were allowed to largely write their own “laws,” ignoring the US legal system’s protections for American citizens. It’s just more proof that the Far Right is more interested in their own wealth and power than in the good of the nation.

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