Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

When big business and human rights collide

How is it possible that foreign companies can come into Burma, hire a rogue army, make billions of dollars and have no responsibility for what their business partners do?

A case before the U.S. Supreme Court may deny victims abroad recourse against corporate-sanctioned abuse.

Injured by Landmine

LA TIMES OP ED  February 26, 2012

Among the thousands of interviews I’ve conducted as a human rights investigator over the last 24 years, one of the most difficult was in 1996, outside a refugee camp along the Thai-Burma border. I was no stranger to suffering in my country. I had fled from Burma (also known as Myanmar) just a few years before, escaping the brutal military regime after being arrested and tortured. I had gone to the camp to investigate reports that villages were being uprooted and brutalized to make way for a natural gas pipeline built by U.S. oil giant Unocal and other multinational corporations. There, I met a young mother from my Karen ethnic group whose baby had recently been killed by Burmese troops providing security for the pipeline.

That was Jane Doe, as she would later be known. She would go on to help establish the legal principle that U.S. corporations can be held liable for complicity in severe human rights abuses abroad. Now, a case being argued before theU.S. Supreme Courton Tuesday may mean that future Jane Does will have no such recourse against corporations.

Jane Doe 1 was a poor farmer whose great misfortune was that she was living in the path of the project when Unocal — now owned by Chevron — and its French and Thai corporate partners began building the pipeline. Their other partner was the Burmese military regime, and the corporations contracted with its army, despite its abhorrent human rights record, to provide security for the project.

The soldiers forced thousands of villagers to provide slave labor for the project. One of those villagers was Jane Doe’s husband. As Jane Doe told me in the camp, the military forced her husband at gunpoint to clear the jungle and carry heavy loads. When he escaped, the soldiers came looking for him. They found Jane Doe instead, nursing her baby near a cooking fire. She told them she didn’t know where her husband was. The soldiers beat her into unconsciousness and kicked her and her baby into the fire. Jane Doe recovered from her injuries; her baby died.

I remember trying to comfort her and thinking: How is it possible that foreign companies can come into Burma, hire a rogue army, make billions of dollars and have no responsibility for what their business partners do? There have been positive changes in Burma recently, but at that time, justice was impossible; the courts served the military. But Unocal was a U.S. company, and I had met American lawyers who believed that U.S. corporations were not above human rights laws

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February 26, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colombian rebels say they’ll no longer kidnap, will free all captives

AP at Washington Post  February 26, 2012

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia’s main rebel group said Sunday it is abandoning the practice of kidnapping and will soon free its last remaining “prisoners of war,” 10 security force members held for as long as 14 years.

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, announced on its website that it would no longer kidnap civilians “for financial ends,” marking the first time the rebels have unequivocally renounced a tool they have long employed against Colombia’s well-heeled.

It is not clear whether an order has been given to release ransom-kidnapping victims currently held by the rebels, whose number is not known.

The FARC did not provide a date for the liberation of the 10 security force members, two fewer than the government says it holds

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February 26, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Columbia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sergeant killed while defusing roadside bomb in Nusaybin

A sergeant was killed and another injured while attempting to defuse a home-made bomb in the Nusaybin district of Mardin by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Saturday.

Turkish security officials were informed that PKK terrorists had placed a bomb alongside a road in Söğütlü Village in Nusaybin. After receiving this intelligence, gendarmerie units blocked the road and identified the explosives, which weighed approximately 40 kilograms. The bomb detonated while Spc. Sgt. Cışkun Göl and another sergeant were trying to defuse it. Gök was killed, while the other sergeant received minor wounds.

Military officials said the device was connected to a 5 kilometer cable allowing it to be detonated by remote control. Security officials have commenced an operation in the area to identify the terrorists who placed the bomb.

February 26, 2012 Posted by | Bomb Disposal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Private firm Saracen flouts UN embargo in Somalia

Pretoria News  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

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February 26, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, United Nations | , , , , , | Leave a comment