What Justice for Iraqi Victims of Private Military and Security Companies?
The ICSSI Takes Action!
The last ten years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of private military and security companies [PMSCs] in places of armed conflict, especially by the United States and the United Kingdom. These private companies have been implicated in illegal use of force, the killing of civilians, torture, sexual assault, violations of workers’ rights, and other human rights abuses. But rarely are these incidents properly investigated. PMSCs and the governments that hire them are not held accountable. For victims and their families, there is no justice.
Iraqi citizens understand the tragedy of this failure to respect human rights and international humanitarian law perhaps better than any people. Iraq has witnessed many of the most devastating cases of abuse by PMSCs.
- 17 civilians killed and 24 wounded in shootings by Blackwater contractors in Nisoor Square in Baghdad, September 16, 2007.
- Blackwater was involved in 195 other incidents of “aggressive tactics” in Baghdad, Najaf, Mosul, and Erbil between 2005 and 2007. According to the company’s own records, Blackwater employees fired first in 80% of all shootings.
- More that 250 people were of tortured at Abu Ghraib and 25 other prisons where Titan/L-3 and CACI International were employed to provide security services.
- Erinys International guards opened fire in Kirkuk severely wounding three young civilians, October 18, 2007.
- Triple Canopy employees fired upon Iraqi civilian vehicles and failed to investigate possible casualties, July 8, 2006.
These are only a small number of the abuses of which PMSCs have been accused in Iraq. PMSCs have largely been able to violate the law with impunity. The situation is so terrible that peace and justice activists in the United States are pressing for legislation that would ban the use of PMSCs by the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan. Worldwide, the legal means that exist to control, prosecute, and, when necessary, punish these companies are so inadequate and ineffective that human rights defenders are working for a legally binding international convention.
Members of the ICSSI are taking a lead in bringing a declaration in support of an international convention on the Regulation, Surveillance and Monitoring of PMSCs to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The declaration follows from the path-breaking research that the Spanish NGO, NOVA carried out in preparing its study, “The Privatization of Warfare, Violence and Private Military & Security Companies.”
As the ICSSI gets ready to bring its evidence to the Human Rights Council, it is vitally important that Iraqi human rights organizations and anyone from Iraq who has had their rights violated by a PMSC join in this effort. In solidarity, we can work to see that justice is achieved!
For more information, read the report from NOVA: http://www.iraqicivilsociety.org/archives/419