The Afghan government on Sunday began the process of assuming responsibility for the country's security by disbanding eight Afghan and foreign private security firms and confiscating their weapons and ammunition. The banning of the firms [CNN report] is being conducted in accordance with a decree [Reuters report] issued by Afghan President Hamid Karzai [official profile; JURIST news archive] in August which called for the firms to disband within four months, with the aim of paving the way for the Afghan government to take over all security responsibilities for the country by 2014. Among the firms that were Xe Services [corporate website], formerly known as Blackwater [JURIST news archive], White Eagle Security Services and Four Horseman International [corporate websites]. Afghanistan currently has 52 registered security companies tasked with guarding embassies and convoys, as well as training Afghan security forces. A spokesman for Karzai indicated that the dissolution of the firms would not affect the use of private security firms to train national security forces [AFP report] or protect of various buildings.
Approximately 250 employees of the former Blackwater company were ordered to cease operations [JURIST report] and leave Iraq in February. The explusion was a reaction to a US federal court's decision in December 2009 to dismiss charges [JURIST report] against five former Blackwater employees accused of killing 17 innocent Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] in 2007 because information against the defendants was obtained unconstitutionally. In January, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic] announced that Iraq will file lawsuits against Blackwater [JURIST report] for the 2007 killings in both Iraqi and US courts. Also in January, two Blackwater contractors working for the US were arrested and charged [JURIST report] with 13 counts relating to a May 2009 shooting of two Afghans at an intersection in Kabul, including second-degree murder and weapons charges. Prosecutors announced in April that the contractors would not face the death penalty for those charges [JURIST report].