'Ban UK mercenaries' call after new shootings

19 October 2007 - 5:54pm
Press release

The call followed reports this afternoon that British security company Erinys International is the employer of the guards who opened fire on a taxi near Kirkuk in Iraq yesterday, wounding three civilians, including two women.

Erinys has encountered previous criticism for alleged prisoner abuse by its employees and for hiring former apartheid-era paramilitary police and mercenaries from South Africa. Erinys is a founder member of the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC), the trade association which has been involved in regulation talks with the UK government, and Erinys representatives have met with officials from the Foreign Office's Iraq directorate.

These latest shootings come in the wake of the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians shot by guards from US private military company Blackwater, and of two Iraqis killed last week by guards from Unity Resources Group, a security firm run by former Australian army personnel.

Ruth Tanner, Senior Campaigns Officer at War on Want, said: "These latest shootings underline the need for the British government to stop UK mercenaries operating in war zones. There have been hundreds of human rights violations by mercenary troops, yet not a single prosecution has been brought against them. Gordon Brown must act now to bring these companies within the law."

The British government has come under increased pressure to introduce legislation on private military companies operating overseas, including a ban on their use in combat. The Labour government has refused to introduce any form of regulation, despite recognising the problem in its 2002 Green Paper on the industry. The United Nations working group on mercenaries has this month renewed its call for the UK government to introduce legislation to regulate the private military sector and to guard against the 'inherent dangers' of privatising the use of violence in war zones.

CONTACT: War on Want media officer Paul Collins +44 (0)20 7549 0584 or +44 (0)7983 550728.

NOTE TO EDITORS War on Want's report on the private military and security industry, Corporate Mercenaries, can be downloaded here - along with video footage of mercenaries fighting in Iraq.





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