Group Urges Commission to Advance Accountablity for Private Military Contractors, Protect Civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan
Washington, DC Human Rights First today urged members of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan to advocate policies designed to minimize the risk of harm to civilians and to ensure that private military contractors are held criminally responsible for serious abuses. The group offered reform recommendations in written testimony to the commission and noted that failure to implement changes to current policy will threaten America's national security interests.
"Private security contractors are being asked to function in active combat zones in ways that dangerously blur the line between civilians and the military. Consequently, contractors have continued to engage in hostile activity with minimal command, contractual, or judicial oversight. This has put other civilians, and America's security interests, at risk and contributed to a lack of political will to hold contractors accountable when they engage in criminal activity," said Human Rights First. The group went on to note that to correct this, the definition of what is an "inherently governmental" function should reflect a strong preference that contractors not engage in hostile activity. Contractors must also be held responsible by a robust and adequately-resourced judicial system when they commit crimes, and additional, credible, oversight must be exercised in the field.
The organization stated that private sector employees permeate virtually every component of the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan