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Private UK Security Groups Support Intl Regulation

UN says private UK security groups would support international regulation

5 June 2008 - A group of United Nations human rights experts said today that private military and security groups in the United Kingdom have agreed to support the creation of both a national and international system to regulate their activities.

The UN working group on the use of mercenaries said in a statement that it welcomed the private companies' willingness to agree on a basic set of principles.

However, the UN experts said they were concerned that "criminal accountability of individuals working for UK-registered companies is in most cases not covered by British national laws."

They were also "deeply concerned that in spite of numerous national efforts, notably the 2002 Government Green Paper on the regulation of such activities, no significant move forward has been initiated since 2005."

During its visit, the working group met with civil society actors and shared their concerns about the impact of interrogations of detainees and the use of lethal force on human rights.

The group's mandate is to monitor and study the human rights implications of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market.

The UN experts have been tasked with preparing a draft of basic international principles that encourage respect for human rights by private security firms.

The group completed a five-day visit to the UK last week and will present a detailed report to an upcoming session of the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

In a report earlier this year, the experts said that a growing number of private security and military companies are operating domestically and internationally without effective oversight or accountability.

The report said that private security companies in such conflict-wracked countries as Iraq, Colombia and Afghanistan are recruiting former policemen and members of the military from developing countries as "security guards" in their operations.

ENDS

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