UN mercenary experts call on Fiji to regulate private security activities
Concerned that many Fijians have been recruited as mercenaries, experts on the issue today urged the authorities of the Pacific country to ensure that private security companies operate in full accordance with international human rights standards, as they concluded a fact-finding mission for the United Nations.
In preliminary recommendations, the Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, five independent experts who report to the UN Human Rights Council, urged the Government to maintain transparent registers of private security companies as well as a system of regular inspections, so that security workers, their families and the populations among which they worked were protected.
“The Working Group notes that Fiji has an established tradition of well trained, disciplined and highly skilled military and security personnel, who perform security functions in various capacities worldwide,” the group said in its statement, adding that remittances from such personnel formed an important part of the domestic economy.
“However, the Working Group notes with concern that in a number of instances the activities carried out by Fijians abroad may qualify as mercenary-related activities,” it continued.
The group said it was most worried about companies that work in situations of armed conflict such as Iraq, as well as those that exploit Fijians through excessive working hours, non-payment of salaries, ill-treatment and neglect of basic needs.
It was also concerned over limited reintegration services available to Fijians who return to their communities after working in security services abroad, which it said are necessary to prevent domestic violence and the spread of sexually transmittable diseases.
To remedy this gap, the group recommended the establishment of a comprehensive system of debriefing and professional counselling.
It also recommended that Fiji accede to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, as these instruments would strengthen the protection of Fijians contracted for security work abroad.
The Working Group, established by the then UN Commission on Human Rights in 2005, is headed by its Chairperson-Rapporteur, José Luis Gómez del Prado of Spain.