UN experts rap US over private security firms

14th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

UN experts on Tuesday rapped the United States for its failure to prosecute private security personnel over violations in Iraq, citing a case against two US firms which was dismissed after they claimed immunity.

The UN working group on mercenaries said in a report that it "remains concerned at the continuing lack of transparency regarding the activities of private military security companies and at the failures of the civilian justice system to effectively prosecute those responsible for human rights violations."

Information on contracts between the US government and such firms is "scarce and opaque," it added.

In addition, the group noted that companies often invoke immunity when prosecuted, as they were working on behalf of the US government.

The group highlighted a case brought against US firms CACI and L-3 Services -- formerly known as Titan Corporation -- over the alleged torture of detainees at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

"CACI and L-3 argued that they should receive immunity because they were contractors and becase the violations in this case arose out of detentions in Iraq," noted the working group.

A US court dismissed the case saying that the companies had immunity as government contractors.

Consequently, no one was prosecuted in the case, noted the experts, while their requests to meet the firms were refused.

The experts called on Washington to "renounce the inclusion of immunity provisions" in agreements for such security firms.

© 2010 AFP

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