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Amnesty International: Human Rights Abuses Go Unpunished as Civilian Contractors Escape Accountability in Iraq

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 18, 2007
3:17 PM

CONTACT:  Amnesty International
Lauren Mendoza
(202) 637-5018

 
Human Rights Abuses Go Unpunished as Civilian Contractors Escape Accountability in Iraq, Says Amnesty International USA
 
WASHINGTON - September 18 - Amnesty International USA Business and Human Rights Program Director Mila Rosenthal issued the following statement in response to media reports on the Iraqi government’s decision to ban Blackwater USA from working in the country:

“The banning of Blackwater by Iraq further highlights why Congress needs to act now to ensure that U.S. contractor employees are held legally responsible for criminal acts. Amnesty International knows that contractor personnel implicated in serious violent incidents have been spirited out of theater by their employers before a full investigation could be conducted, even when there were credible allegations of murder of innocent civilians. If one of the purposes for United States involvement in Iraq is to help establish the rule of law, U.S. contract employees should not be allowed to avoid that very principle.

Well-established systems exist for holding military personnel responsible for criminal activity. When the U.S. military deploys, it takes with it a code of law and the means and will to enforce it. Thus far, civilian contractors have escaped such clear, applicable and enforceable legal procedures. This means that victims have no access to justice, and human rights abuses go unpunished.

Rep. David Price (NC) and Sen. Barack Obama (IL) have introduced comprehensive bills in the House and Senate to correct the lack of accountability of civilian contractors. Congress should act now on this legislation.”

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