Al Jazeera & Inter Press Service – 2011-07-09 00:38:01
Global Private Security Industry Booms
Thalif Deen / Al Jazeera & Inter Press Service
(July 7, 2011) — A booming private security industry — triggered mostly by ‘terrorist’ threats, domestic insurgencies and drug wars — deploys some 20 million armed personnel worldwide: twice the number of police officers, according to the annual 2011 Small Arms Survey released here.
Outside of war zones in Asia and Africa, the Latin American region has the highest ratio of arms per employee: about 10 times higher than in Western Europe.
Keith Krause, director of the Small Arms Survey Programme, says in prisons, at airports, along borders, and on the street, security provision is increasingly in the hands of private actors.
“The key question to which we donâ€™t know the answer is whether these evolving arrangements are enhancing or impairing security,” he adds.
In some countries, the survey points out, the 20 million figure represents a doubling or even a tripling of the number of private security workers over the past 10-20 years.
Government outsourcing of many security functions appears to be driving the boom, among other factors.
Still, despite the rapid growth of the sector, private security personnel hold far fewer firearms than do state security forces, according to the survey.
A review of data for 70 countries reveals they hold no more than four million firearms, compared to some 26 million held by law enforcement and 200 million held by armed forces.
The Survey also includes case studies examining the dynamics of both public and private security provision in Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti and Madagascar.
The Small Arms Survey, an independent research project funded by multiple governments, is the 11th annual global analysis of small arms issues.
Published by Cambridge University Press, and commissioned by the Small Arms Survey Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, the study says regulation and accountability mechanisms have not kept up with the growth of the private security industry.
Meanwhile, a United Nations Working Group has been trying to rein in the widespread human rights abuses by these private military and security companies (PMSCs).
A draft International Convention on the Regulation, Surveillance and Monitoring of PMSCs has already been discussed by more than 150 academics and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) worldwide.
The proposed draft, which spells out legislative oversight and judicial measures to punish private security firms for any unlawful acts, has also been submitted to member states for their comments.
The PMSCs currently operating in war zones include ArmorGroup International, Dyncorp International, EOD Technology Inc, KBR, Kulak Construction Co., Prime Projects International, PWC Logistics, Global Risks Solutions, Mitchell Jessen and Associates, the Shaw Group and Sallyport Global Services.
Some of these companies have been accused of advising the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on torture and body-guarding techniques, and also trained police forces in torture techniques in at least one Latin American country.
Asked about the proposed convention, Nicolas Florquin, one of the authors of the chapter on private security companies in the Small Arms Survey, said there are several ongoing processes to improve regulation of private security companies. One is the intergovernmental working group appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to discuss options to regulate the industry. He said one option on the table is a convention.
Although experts have produced a draft, he pointed out, it is unclear how many states will support it, as it is a very controversial topic in a rather politicised forum, as a background check on the UN Human Rights Council will illustrate.
Conduct Code for Mercenaries
For instance, he said, the 1989 UN Convention on Mercenaries has only 32 states parties (those signing and ratifying), and mainly from the coalition of non-aligned countries.
Another process, he said, is the Montreux Document, basically a ‘summary’ of states’ obligations with respect to PMSCs under international law, along with examples of good practices. Some 36 states ‘support’ the process, including major ‘contracting’ states like the United States and UK, and also ‘affected’ states such as Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not binding, but the standards it summarises are taken from other legally binding documents.
Additionally, there is an offshoot of the Montreux process, the International Code of Conduct for PMSCs, which basically enables PMSCs themselves to commit to many of the standards outlined in the Montreux Document. Some 150 PMSCs have signed it, but mechanisms for oversight, monitoring, and accreditation are still under discussion, he added.
Asked whether an international convention to regulate the industry is feasible, Florquin said: “The question of feasibility depends greatly on whether states involved in the Montreux process will back or not such a convention project.”
“Obviously, they are more keen on the Montreux process, but we’ll have to wait for more meeting of the government working group to see the positions of everyone,” he noted.
A version of this article was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.
‘Excessive Force’ from Blackwater
Documents reveal more than a dozen cases of Blackwater employees shooting at civilians — often with deadly results
(October 20, 2010) — An American convoy driven by Blackwater — the US private security firm now known as Xe – drove over a roadside bomb in northern Baghdad in May 2006. They started shooting after the explosion, and their “uncontrolled fire” killed an Iraqi ambulance driver.
JCC reports that IP reported the IED strike on CF CIV VIC MB 4265 9065. IP claim that 1X LN ambulance driver was killed by uncontrolled small arms firing by the CF CIV convoy after the IED strike (see associations for details of IED strike). JCC notified 4/101AA and requested that the CF patrol at the site investigate.
A US army military intelligence unit tried to contact Blackwater after the shooting to confirm the details. “Blackwater TOC would not confirm or deny at this time,” the report states.
The deadliest incident involving Blackwater — the Nisour Square shooting in 2007, which left 17 civilians dead — has been widely reported. But the secret documents reveal another 14 incidents in which Blackwater shot at civilians.
At least ten people were killed, and seven more wounded, in those shootings.
“Blackwater Employees Fired Indiscriminately”
In May 2005, army soldiers at a checkpoint west of Baghdad watched a Blackwater patrol “shoot up a civilian vehicle.” One civilians was killed, with two others wounded, and the soldiers themselves came close to being shot as well.
At 1010D, 1-69 reported while manning OP 542 on RTE Irish, they observed a Blackwater PSD shoot up a CIV vehicle, rounds also were shot over 1-69 heads. The vehicle that fired the shots was a white up armored truck traveling west towards ECP 1.
BDA: Family of Three
1 KIA (father) 2X WIA (mother,DAU) No CF INJ/damage
A February 2006 report states that two civilians were killed by Blackwater mercenaries escorting a US state department patrol through Kirkuk. “A demonstration began immediately following the shooting,” the report notes, forcing a nearby US army unit to meet with local politicians in an attempt to calm tensions. At least one other report states that a Blackwater shooting led to Iraqi protests.
In another report, a squadron from the 66th Armor Regiment encountered a Blackwater patrol shortly after it was involved in a shootout. The attackers got away; three civilians did not.
Blackwater patrol reports a vehicle, possibly marked as an IP vehicle, travelling southbound had attacked the Blackwater convoy with SAF and RPG. Casualties: 3 local nationals caught in the crossfire were KIA and one tractor trailer is jack-knifed.
More than a dozen other reports describe similar incidents: Blackwater convoys are attacked and start firing back, and civilians are often “caught in the crossfire.”
In several cases, the US military units who respond to the shootouts state that the group used excessive force. In August 2006, for example, an armored Blackwater convoy ran over a roadside bomb just east of the Tigris River. “After the IED strike a witness reports the Blackwater employees fired indiscriminately at the scene, and detained an unknown number of IP’s [sic] that were near the IED strike,” a US report of the incident states.
No Blackwater employee has ever been punished for killing an Iraqi civilian.
Blackwater wasn’t the only firm providing guns-for-hire in Iraq: Dozens of other private military companies – KBR, DynCorp and others — ran similar operations.
The leaked documents often reveal confusion and poor communication between US troops and the private firms. US troops at a checkpoint opened fire on an unmarked vehicle in February 2007 when it ran through a stop sign.
The vehicles failed to stop after a flare and a warning shot, the vehicles were stopped with disabling shots approximately 50 meters from the CP. The BDA is 1 civilian KIA, 1 civilian WIA and 1 civilian vehicle disabled.
Following the EOF it was discovered that both drivers were American KBR drivers. They were part of a convoy…
Another deadly incident, in March 2005, pitted three private firms against one another — Global, DynCorp and KBR — in a shootout on the Baghdad airport road. Employees from the latter two companies were riding in a cement truck, and accidentally entered a lane reserved for US military vehicles; they were fired upon by Global mercenaries guarding the checkpoint.
Private military companies also clashed more recently with the Iraqi forces. A September 2009 report states that a team from ArmorGroup, a British firm, were threatened with arrest by the Iraqi police.
[They] were accused of delaying civilian vehicles and also pointing weapons in the direction of the check point by the IP officer on duty… the team leader was then informed that the personnel from the lead gun truck were to be arrested and that the gun trucks and all CET personnel had to follow the IP to the local police station.
The leader of the ArmorGroup team “pressed his alarms” — presumably a call for assistance — at which point the Iraqi police decided to allow the convoy to proceed.
At least 170 employees of these firms were killed during the six years covered by the leaked documents.
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