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August 17, 2010
2:09 PM

CONTACT: Human Rights First

Brenda Bowser Soder
O -202/370-3323, C – 301/906-4460

Karzai Decree Prompts Renewed Call for Accountability and Oversight

WASHINGTON - August 17 - President Hamid Karzai issued a presidential decree today ordering private security companies in Afghanistan to disband within four months.  This decree comes on the heels of serious allegations of corruption and reports of rampant abuse by private security contractors in Afghanistan.  Human Rights First notes that the announcement underscores a need for greater accountability and oversight of private security contractors in Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

Human Rights First's Melina Milazzo today issued the following statement:
"President Karzai’s call for a decree comes as the United States increasingly relies on private contractors to perform security functions in active war zones.  Private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan now total more than 28,000 and nearly all of them are armed.  With this increased reliance on contractors have come increased incidents of serious criminal violations. Despite Congress’ elevated scrutiny and oversight over contractors, accountability gaps persist.  America’s reputation and its national security interests are at stake when U.S. contractors who commit serious criminal violations go scot-free."

"It is imperative that a comprehensive system of accountability and oversight are in place for private contractors fielded abroad.  U.S. contractors must be held responsible by a robust and adequately resourced judicial system when they commit crimes, and additional, credible, oversight must be in exercised in the field.  Failing to do so creates a culture of impunity that threatens the safety of civilians, U.S. troops and contractors themselves, as well as gravely undermines U.S. military missions."

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.


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