Search

Africa's Public Procurement & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative – APPERI

Category

War

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.

Bill to Stop Modern Day Slavery under Government Contracts


ACLU

By Devon Chaffee

July 12, 2012

Last month the ACLU released a joint report with Yale Law SchoolVictims of Complacency, that documents the ongoing trafficking, forced labor and abuse of foreign workers hired through U.S. government contracts to work in support of U.S. military and diplomatic missions abroad. Recruited from impoverished villages in countries such as India, Nepal and the Philippines, these men and women – known as Third Country Nationals – are charged exorbitant recruitment fees, lied to about what country they will be taken to and how much they will be paid, and often have no choice but to live and work in unacceptable and unsafe conditions.  These abuses amount to modern day slavery; all on the U.S. tax payers’ dime. Now members of Congress want to act to ensure that federal funds are no longer facilitating such exploitative, abusive and illegal practices.

To help put an end to this trafficking and forced labor under contracts funded by the federal government, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D- CT) and Representative James Lankford (R-OK)) have introduced the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012. The bill has strong bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate. This means that even during an election year with heightened partisan tensions in Congress, the bill is one of a handful of measures that has a good chance of becoming law. Recently, the Republican-controlled House adopted the provision—without opposition—as an amendment to a larger defense authorization bill.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 will significantly increase oversight and accountability for employee recruitment under U.S. government contracts preformed abroad.  Currently many large U.S.-based government contractors refuse to take responsibility for the recruitment policies of their subcontractors that hire recruiters which in turn use fraudulent and illegal hiring practices to increase their profits. The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 works to address this issue by requiring all U.S. government contractors performing a substantial amount of their contract overseas to ensure that their subcontractors and the recruitment agencies they use comply with U.S. anti-trafficking laws, policies and practices. The bill also increases accountability by increasing reporting requirements and extending criminal prohibitions against fraudulent labor practices, including trafficking and forced labor, to contractors and subcontractors working overseas.

The Obama administration has long had a “zero tolerance” policy against human trafficking based on U.S. government contracts, but to date that policy has not been effectively implemented.  As documented in “Victims of Complacency” and numerous other government and non-governmental reports, hundreds of men and women have been trafficked on to U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan where they have been subjected to forced labor and other abusive treatment by U.S. government contractors and sub-contractors.  Yet, our government has failed to fully investigate these allegations; nor has it prosecuted or taken administrative action against a single contractor for involvement in such abuses. The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 is an important step towards making “zero tolerance” a reality, and to bringing an end to an unacceptable chain of profits based on trafficking, forced labor and taxpayer dollars.

Spies in Africa’s Skies: New Contractors for the Pentagon


CorpWatch.org

By Patrap Chatterjee

June 18th, 2012

In 1994, a Turkish couple named Fatih and Emren Ozmen, bought up a nondescript company named Sierra Nevada Corporation in the small town of Sparks, just outside of Reno, Nevada.

Just over a decade later, on the other side of the country, in Eatontown, New JerseyScott Crockett and David Lewis, two African-American communications officers who were deployed with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, started up a company called R-4, Inc.

Today these two companies are now at the forefront of the covert war in Africa, where they operate small Swiss aircraft to spy on behalf of the U.S. Special Operations Command. They help support secret missions all over the continent, working most closely with AfriCom, the U.S. command for Africa, run out of Stuttgart, Germany.

The Ozmens company and R-4 work for Operation Tusker Sand, run out of Entebbe, Uganda. A similar mission using private pilots named Operation Creek Sand is run out of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

A Washington Post series by Craig Whitlock, with help from ace researcher Julie Tate, has unmasked some of the key details of the African spying operation that includes covert U.S. bases in Arba Minch, Ethiopia; Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti; Nouakchott, Mauritania; Manda Bay, Kenya; Nzara, South Sudan and Victoria, Seychelles.

The Ozmens have grown from a 20 person operation in 1994 to a 2,100 employee outfit today. Their pilots fly Pilatus PC-12s, small Swiss turboprop planes which are “(e)quipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles,” according to the Washington Post.

The newspaper says that contractors have been hired to fly as much as 150 hours a month. Also outsourced to the private sector were sensor operators, intelligence analysts, mechanics and linguists. (One of the companies that supplied linguists to the Pentagon in Africa was Mission Essential Personnel)

The road to growth for the Ozmens might have something to do with the fact that they are close friends with Jim Gibbons, the former governor of Nevada, and his wife Dawn Gibbons, whom they took on a holiday in Turkey in 2000. Gibbons was a member of the U.S. Congress at the time and the Las Vegas Review Journal notes that in mid-2004 “he helped Sierra Nevada get a $2 million no-bid federal contract for helicopter landing technology. Throughout that year, the company was paying Dawn Gibbons $2,500 a month as a public relations consultant.” That year the Ozmens company won $42 million in Pentagon contracts.

In 2007, when Gibbons became governor, the federal government investigated how the Ozmens won their classified Pentagon contracts. Dawn Gibbons was unapologetic. “Sierra Nevada got a bargain for the work I did. … Believe me, they got their money’s worth,” she told the Associated Press.

What was their company selling at the time? A system called Force 4 which “offers real-time video, individual emergency response tracking, two-way voice and message traffic with command center interaction for terrorism preparedness and response.”

Today Sierra Nevada is one of the key contractors in the drone war around the world. They sell Tactilink, a voice and data relay system for drones, they support Gorgon Stare, a multi-camera video suite touted for its ability to spy on whole cities at once and they make landing gear for the Predator drones that the Central Intelligence Agency uses in Pakistan and Yemen to kill “terrorists” from the sky.

The Pentagon and the CIA have long used private contractors for covert wars. Air America and Air Asia were the front companies used to bomb Cambodia and Laos for president Lyndon Johnson. Bigger, more established companies, like Northrop Grumman were used to spy in Colombia under president Bill Clinton

So it seems only appropriate that the next major Democratic president, Barack Obama, would adopt the same strategy of clandestine private contractors like Sierra Nevada and R4 for covert wars, this time in Africa.

Private firm flouts UN embargo in Somalia


IOL News

By Ivor Powell

February 26, 2012

Eight months after SA-linked private military company Saracen International was fingered in a UN Security Council as the “most egregious threat” to peace and security in the failed state of Somalia, Saracen continues to run and train a private army in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Saracen, one of a cluster of shadowy private military contractors born from the ashes of the SA/British mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes, after nearly 18 months of military activity in the region, has yet to secure permission to operate as a security provider in a region so volatile Somalia has not had a functioning central government for upwards of 20 years.

Tlali Tlali, the spokesman for the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, confirmed that neither the SA arm of the Saracen operation, nor any of the individuals associated with the Somali adventure had applied for accreditation as legitimate security contractors.

UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) co-ordinator Matthew Bryden confirmed the company had failed to seek or secure authorisation from the international authority to operate as a private military contractor in Somalia after being fingered in the Monitoring Group’s June 2011 report.

We understand that the UN is in possession of compelling evidence that Saracen has continued with military training and deployment in defiance of the UN’s general arms embargo. The continuing violations of UN Resolutions 1973 and 1976 are expected to be addressed in detail in the SEMG’s forthcoming annual report at midyear.

Saracen’s operation in Somalia is headed by Executive Outcomes stalwart and – until the mercenary outfit was disbanded – holding company director, Lafras Luitingh. Luitingh is also a director of Australian African Global Investments (AAGI) the company primarily involved in logistical supply and procurement for the operation…Read more.

Libya can’t start afresh by sticking with corrupt contracts


Moving sand dunes, rocks and mountains in Tadr...
Image via Wikipedia

Guardian.co.uk

By 

September 11, 2011

The National Transitional Council’s pledge to honour contracts signed by Gaddafi‘s regime stores up trouble for the future.

The crumbling of the Gaddafi regime has intensified discussion of the challenges that lie ahead for Libya. Democracy, pluralism, national reconciliation and religion are all critical issues that will need much work. In my own opinion, though, re-establishment of the rule of law is the most pressing of all issues. Corruption, left unchecked, constitutes a threat to the future security of Libya.

A few years into its existence, the Gaddafi regime began to morph into a criminal enterprise that siphoned off Libya’s wealth either for personal enrichment or to buy friends for the regime both at home and abroad.

Naturally, the government controlled all revenues flowing into the Libyan treasury and maintained a vice-like grip on contracts. Over the years, the percentage “commission” on any given contract grew exponentially and, in many cases, was reported to exceed the actual value of the base contract.

We are unlikely to ever know the full details of the financial wrongdoings that have taken place in Libya over the past 40 years. However, what is undisputable is that Libyan government contracts were the primary vehicles for corruption.

Contracts with foreign companies provided an easy and convenient way of laundering money outside the country. At least part of this money was used by the regime to finance international terrorist activities includingsupporting the IRA, the Lockerbie bombing and endless conflicts in the African continent. Contracts with local acolytes provided an equally easy and convenient way of financing the drugs trade, smuggling and other criminal activities.

Much of the corruption in Libya is institutionalised in long-term contracts signed by the Gaddafi regime with companies all over the world, most notably in Russia, China, Italy, Germany, the UK and the US.

The National Transitional Council has been under tremendous pressure from these countries to publicly state that these contracts will be honoured – which it has done, perhaps because of its dependence on the goodwill of the international community. It seems to have done so without placing any condition or reservation. To renew contracts without removing the embedded fraud, where it exists, is a huge mistake…While they might feel they cannot afford to alienate the very countries that have supported them, short-term expediency cannot trump long-term interests and those interests are serving the needs of the people they work for: the people of Libya who will be in no mood for business as usual…Read more.

INTERVIEW-Libyan council wants oil firms to return fast


An oil well in Canada, which has the world's s...
Image via Wikipedia

AlertNet

Source: Reuters

September 2, 2011

By John Irish

PARIS, Sept 2 (Reuters) – With infrastructure damage from Libya‘s six-month conflict fairly limited, foreign oil companies should return as fast as possible to restore oil production, the interim administration’s reconstruction minister said on Friday.

In an interview with Reuters during a meeting with donor groups and post-conflict rebuilding experts, Ahmed Jehani said oil would be key to getting the economy running again and foreign contractors were needed for their technical expertise.

“The issue of damage is not much and you can get procurement very fast. This is helped by fact the producing wells are under contract to international firms, if they feel they can deploy their people,” said Jehani.

He could not say how quickly Libya, which has Africa‘s largest oil reserves and boasts top-quality crude, could see its output back at pre-war levels of 1.6 million barrels per day.

“We could go back to normal levels if you have the companies coming back to operate fields and then they can judge,” he said. “The parts under Libyan management we could get up very fast.” Read more.

‘Libya’s oil deals need to be transparent’


Pie chart of world oil reserves by region
Image via Wikipedia

Guardian

Sitting on Africa‘s largest oil reserves, one can expect foreign oil companies to be beating a path to its door clamouring for contracts. But campaigners urged the National Transitional Council (NTC) to refrain from any new oil concessions until an elected government is in place to avoid perceptions of a Libyan “oil grab”.

“Any deals at this time could raise concerns within Libya that international support for the NTC is driven by a desire for access to oil rather than for the benefit of the Libyan people,” said campaigning group Global Witness. “The NTC is likely to have to honour Gaddafi-era contracts in order to get oil revenues flowing. But no new deals for the exploration or exploitation of oilfields should be considered until an elected government can review existing rules and laws to ensure robust transparency and accountability.” Read more.

Lobbyists line up to new Libyan government


united states currency eye- IMG_7364_web
Image by kevindean via Flickr

26 August, 2011, 07:31

It’s no surprise that America is quick to put itself in the picture of the whole ordeal in Libya as the United States isn’t exactly a known isolationist nation.

Aside from involving itself in the politics of the country during the current revolution, American PR companies have begun a bidding war to offer their services to a nation with a new government and new faces.

Corporations, companies and politicians in America aligned themselves to Colonel Gaddafi only up until late. As the revolt escalated, however, ties were cut and contracts broken. Now with the Transitional National Council being considered the governing body of Libya by parts of the world, the US included, American entities want to invest in an all-new Libya.

Washington-based lobbyists Patton Boggs have already inked a deal with Libya in the days since the coup heated up, and are charging the new government upwards of $50,000 a month for consulting fees. In a new report by the National Journal, it’s revealed that strategists at The Harbour Group have also lined up to hop on the Libyan bandwagon, and while they are offering their services for free right now, they could be setting the groundwork for a long-lasting, big-money contractRead more.

US: Judge Allows Rumsfeld Torture Suit to Proceed


Global Policy Forum

By Stephen C. Wester

The Raw Story

August 4th, 2011

A US District Court has allowed a lawsuit by a former US contractor against ex- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield. The contractor alleges that he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the US military in Iraq. Though a number of similar cases have been filed against Rumsfield, many have been rejected on “claims of immunity.” The Justice Department has argued that Rumsfield cannot be sued personally for conduct in his capacity as Secretary of Defense, and that judges cannot review Presidential or Congressional wartime decisions. However, US District Judge James Gwin rejected these arguments, stating that US citizens are protected by the constitution at home and abroad. This judgment comes as a stark reminder to the US that its own officials cannot escape accountability for breaches of human rights.

A lawsuit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, filed by an unnamed U.S. contractor who claims he was tortured by the military, will proceed to trial.

The decision made this week by U.S. District Judge James Gwin is especially important to civil liberties advocates, who’ve seen a number of torture suits against former U.S. officials shot down by claims of immunity.

In this case, originally filed in 2008, Judge Gwin considered a similar argument from the Obama administration: that a former official cannot be sued for their actions in any official capacity.

However, since the plaintiff in the matter is a U.S. citizen whose constitutional rights were allegedly trampled upon — and because Rumsfeld allegedly approved each individual harsh interrogation — the suit is being allowed to proceed.

The man, whose identity was withheld, is a translator in his 50s who helped U.S. Marines communicate with Iraqis. He claims he was abducted by U.S. military personnel in 2005 as he was due to return home from Iraq. Over the course of nine months he was allegedly beaten and interrogated about providing classified information to coalition enemies, then was released without explanation. He was never charged with a crime…Read more.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: