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UN calls for international regulations on independent security contractors

The UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries [official website] on Friday proposed international legislation [UN News Centre report] to create mechanisms for prosecuting contractors and mercenaries when they violate the law. The Chairman of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, Jose Luis Gomez del Prado, said in a press conference that there is currently a gap in the jurisdictional rights of countries when non-governmental forces exceed their authority in another nation.

Gomez specifically pointed to the use of contractors by the US in Iraq, and cited that as a reason for the urgent regulation of these agencies: "While US troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of the year, security contractors are there to stay."

A former contractor for Blackwater [JURIST news archive], now known as Xe Services [corporate website], was sentenced [JURIST report] last month to two-and-a-half years in prison for the 2009 shooting of an unarmed Afghan civilian in Kabul. Earlier that month, four former Blackwater contractors appealed the April decision to reinstate manslaughter charges against them in connection with their alleged roles in a 2007 shooting incident [JURIST reports] in Baghdad, Iraq. In April 2010, a federal grand jury indicted five former Blackwater executives [JURIST report] on charges of weapons violations and lying to investigators. In February 2010, the Iraqi government ordered 250 former Blackwater employees to leave Iraq [JURIST report] in reaction to the dismissal of charges against former Blackwater employees accused in the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] in 2007. That month, the Department of Justice [official website] also opened an investigation [JURIST report] into whether Blackwater bribed the Iraqi government to be permitted to continue operating in Iraq following the 2007 shootings. Blackwater ceased operations in Baghdad [JURIST report] in May 2009 when its security contracts expired and were not renewed.

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