[JURIST] The UN Working Group [official website] on the use of mercenaries on Tuesday urged [press release] stronger global and regulation of private security companies. The group also called on governments to hold private military and security companies (PMSCs) accountable for all of their international human rights violations. The call comes on the heels of a federal jury returning a guilty verdict [JURIST report] against four ex-Blackwater security guards who were charged with Iraqi civilian deaths in 2007. The convictions involved charges of first-degree murder, multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations. Human rights expert Patricia Arias said, “[w]e welcome the fact that prosecutions were finally brought, putting an end to the cycle of impunity that prevailed since 2007 and aggravated the suffering of victims and their families.” The UN Working Group is seeking a to hold an international convention to address the current and past issues with PMSCs.
Blackwater [JURIST news archive] and its employees have faced legal controversy in recent years for activities during the Iraq war. In August 2012 Blackwater agreed to settle [JURIST report] federal criminal charges dealing with export and firearm violations. Also in 2012 Blackwater reached a confidential settlement agreement [JURIST report] with survivors and families of victims in the 2007 shooting incident. Blackwater ceased operations in Baghdad [JURIST report] in May 2009 when its security contracts expired and were not renewed.