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Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA): What Is It, and How Has It Been Utilized?

Description: The deadly attacks on Afghan civilians allegedly by a U.S. service member have raised questions regarding the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in place between the United States and Afghanistan that would govern whether Afghan law would apply in this circumstance. In the case of Afghanistan, the SOFA, in force since 2003, provides that U.S. Department of Defense military and civilian personnel are to be accorded status equivalent to that of U.S. Embassy administrative and technical staff under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations of 1961. Accordingly, U.S. personnel are immune from criminal prosecution by Afghan authorities and are immune from civil and administrative jurisdiction except with respect to acts performed outside the course of their duties. Under the existing SOFA, the United States would have jurisdiction over the prosecution of the service member who allegedly attacked the Afghan civilians.
Date: March 15, 2012
Creator: Mason, Chuck R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department