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UN mercenary experts voice concern over indiscriminate shootings in Iraq

UN mercenary experts voice concern over indiscriminate shootings in Iraq

The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries today expressed its concern over the 16 September “indiscriminate” shooting – claiming the lives of more than 10 Iraqi civilians – in a heavily-populated Baghdad neighbourhood involving a foreign private security company.

In a statement, the Working Group, comprising five independent experts serving in their personal capacities, welcomed investigations in progress to bring to light the facts of this and other reported killings of Iraqi civilians by foreign private security company employees.

The experts noted that “in a number of situations of low intensity armed conflict or post-conflict these private security companies have been given immunity through bilateral Government agreements or decrees – immunity which in many cases becomes a sort of impunity.”

Cautioning against the dangers of privatization and the internationalization of the use of violence, the Working Group stressed Member States’ responsibilities under international law to effectively regulate and control the behaviour of private military and security guards.

The military assistance, consultancy and security services offered by private companies at the global level must not violate human rights, the experts said, recommending that the Governments of the countries where these companies are incorporated or registered and the nations where they operate join forces to create mechanisms to control their activities.

Today’s statement also called on States to accede to the International Convention against the Use, Recruitment, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.

The Working Group, which was established in 2005 to monitor the impact of the activities of private military and security companies on the enjoyment of human rights, is led by Chairperson-Rapporteur José Luis Gómez del Prado of Spain. The other experts are: Najat al-Hajjaji of Libya, Amada Benavides de Pérez of Colombia, Alexander Nikitin of the Russian Federation and Shaista Shameem of Fiji.