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Somalia: UN experts on use of mercenaries urge greater oversight for private security contractors


UN News Centre

18 December 2012 – The Government of Somalia must do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies, a United Nations expert panel urged today at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country.

“As Somalia rebuilds its security institutions, the Government should ensure that private security forces are properly regulated and do not become a substitute for competent and accountable police,” said Faiza Patel, who currently heads the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

“All Somalis have the right to security, not just those who can afford to pay for it,” she added.

After decades of factional fighting, the East Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless States on the planet. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister.

The Working Group commended the formation of the new Government and its efforts to establish a functioning, peaceful and democratic nation. It noted, however, that the new administration needed to reinforce its control over the private armed security sector through redefined laws and offered its assistance in developing such legislation by drawing on best practices learned from other countries.

“Such laws and their consistent application are critical to guarantee that private security providers operate in a legal, transparent and accountable manner,” Working Group-member Anton Katz stated, adding that the availability of private security should not detract from “the urgent need to provide security for all Somalis.”

In its findings, the Working Group noted that some private security contractors have not always operated transparently in the East African country and, occasionally, veer away from their prescribed goals of providing simple protection from armed factions, bandits and pirates.

Pointing to one instance in the state of Puntland, the UN experts cited incidents involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) which was created with the aim to repel the continuing scourge of piracy afflicting the Somali coast.

The Working Group established that the PMPF had engaged in operations unrelated to piracy, including a recent case in which the police force had worked to prevent a candidate for the Puntland presidency from campaigning in Bossaso, the area’s largest city.

Ms. Patel warned that the PMPF was operating outside the legal framework and called on local authorities to integrate the force into “the agreed-upon Somali national security structure and ensure that it is used strictly for the purposes for which it is intended.”

Turning to the issue of piracy – a problem which has long affected international shipping in the heavily trafficked waterways off the coast of Somalia – the UN experts said they were satisfied that piracy had decreased over the past year, although they expressed concern at the continuing use of armed guards aboard vessels.

Ms. Patel called upon the international community to reach an agreement on regulations and procedures regarding the use of armed personnel in the shipping industry, cautioning that a failure to do so created risks for human rights violations at sea.

At the same time, the Working Group also examined the use of private contractors by the UN as well as the UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and welcomed efforts to ensure that the security providers had a clean human rights record and maintained the “gold standard” when it came to human rights issues.

In addition to Ms. Patel of Pakistan, the working group is currently composed of Patricia Arias of Chile, Elzbieta Karska of Poland, Anton Katz of South Africa, and Gabor Rona of the United States and Hungary. Reporting to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, they are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacities.

Somalia: Saracen International bolts out of Puntland region


Somalian Press

Opinion

by M.A. Egge

The infamous dealers in fatal services, Saracen International, have finally bolted out of Puntland following the sudden assassination of one of their senior commando tutors.

The mercenary company that is believed to be on offspring of Executive Outcomes came into public limelight a couple of years ago when the TFG in Mogadishu were reported to have solicited for their services.

Soon after public international outcries for the Sharif government to quash their contract, the Puntland administration kindled an over better contract with the trainers of killing machines.
Since the public international outcry became public, the Majeertenia were pressured to cease the Saracen engagements.

Ironically, despite the fact that Puntland announced the revocation of Saracen contracts and that they were chucked out of their territory, do now real facts emerge that all along, the dogs of war were home in business!

It is not clear if the security company left the country with the horde of weaponry and other killing appliances they had earlier flown into Puntland.

The hurried bolting was in a hush as they flew out of Bandarqasim airfield in Bossasso on a chartered flight to Djibouti.
It is not clear whether they were on a technical brief sojourne in Djibouti as an expression of disgust in the killing of their personnel or whether it was for real calling it byes.
The South African security trainer is said to have been killed by his bodyguard in Somalia’s semiautonomous region of Puntland, officials said Saturday.

Puntland’s government said in a statement Saturday that it had launched an investigation into Friday’s killing. The statement identified the man as Lodewyk Pietersen, and said he worked for Saracen International, a security firm that trains anti-piracy forces in Puntland. The statement said the South African was 55 and married with children.

South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said Saturday no official word has been received from consular staff handling South African interests in Somalia.
“We have not yet been alerted to such an incident,” he said.
The statement said the trainer was killed while accompanying Puntland’s maritime forces on a government-approved mission targeting pirates near Hul-Anod, a coastal area favored by pirates who use it as a base to hijack ships for ransom.

Pietersen was shot dead by his Somali bodyguard after an argument, according to a Puntland official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter. The official said Puntland’s security forces were hunting for the killer.
Somalia’s prime minister recently said that al-Qaida-linked militants were fleeing to mountainous hideouts in Puntland after facing increasing military pressure around Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia, which has not had a functioning central government for more than two decades, is one of the most dangerous places for foreigners to work.

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Somalia: Armed guards to be allowed on ships


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Image via Wikipedia

Thursday 21st July 2011

By Keith Hamilton

Shipping & Heritage Reporter

THE threat from pirates to British shipping is so great that UK-flagged vessels – including many that visit Southampton – will soon be able to employ armed guards as they navigate dangerous waters.

Shipping minister Mike Penning has indicated the Government is about to introduce new legislation which will change the present law and give the legal go-ahead for ships flying the red ensign to recruit armed guards…“Legislation will have to be changed to protect our seafarers around the world,’’ said the minister. “At present it is illegal to use armed guards on British ships, but we are where we are and I cannot ignore the situation.’’ The government believes the new regulations will regulate and control the recruitment of armed guards, and will stop any “cowboys’’ being allowed on board British ships.

Despite a naval task force patrolling near the Horn of Africa, Somali pirates have taken 361 sailors captive in the first six months of this year…Read more.

UN Seeks Controls on Private Armies


IPS

July 12, 2011

By Sunaina Perera

The UN Working Group on Mercenaries has urged the international community to regulate private military security contractors (PMSCs).  A draft resolution has already been submitted to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council. However, countries that heavily use PMSCs (predominately in the West) are reticent to pass a legally binding resolution. PMSCs have perpetrated armed and sexual violence with impunity. Thus, the lack of accountability mechanisms between PMSCs and governments are disconcerting and urgent action is necessary to ensure that PMSCs are adequately regulated.

With U.S. and Western military forces planning to gradually withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, there will be an increasing demand for private military contractors to provide security in both politically-troubled countries.

As a result, the number of military contractors is set to reach 5,500 in Iraq alone, according to a U.N. Working Group on Mercenaries, prompting demands for a specific international instrument to regulate their activities.

The members of the Working Group have stressed the importance of establishing international guidelines and legislation when dealing with Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs)…Read more.

As U.S. Military Exits Iraq, Contractors To Enter


Logo of NPR News.
Image via Wikipedia

May 17, 2011

by Tom Bowman

A U.S. Army helicopter brigade is set to pull out of Baghdad in December, as part of an agreement with the Iraqi government to remove U.S. forces. So the armed helicopters flying over the Iraqi capital next year will have pilots and machine gunners from DynCorp International, a company based in Virginia. Listen to the story

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