Indictments in Blackwater Shootings are Welcome Sign

For Immediate Release


Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150,

Amnesty International USA

Indictments in Blackwater Shootings are Welcome Sign

U.S. Government May Finally Hold Contractors Accountable for Abuses in Iraq, Says Amnesty International

NEW YORK - Erica Razook, director of Business
and Human Rights at Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement
today in response to the indictments of Blackwater Worldwide personnel
in the Sept. 2007 killings of 17 Iraqi civilians near Baghdad:

"For years, reports of serious human
rights abuses by U.S. contractors in Iraq have been met with almost total
impunity. Finally, today's indictments are a meaningful step toward justice
and a welcome signal that the Justice Department is pursuing criminal accountability
of contractors who have largely escaped judicial scrutiny.

"The Justice Department needs to take
a second look at other cases of abuse which reportedly occurred at the
hands of U.S. contractor personnel, including rape, other shootings and
torture and mistreatment of detainees. The department has thus far declined
to prosecute these cases for no apparent good reason. Certainly, there
is no jurisdictional issue for a case of detainee abuse that occurs within
a U.S.-controlled facility, such as Abu Ghraib."

Amnesty International has called for the
immediate investigation and prosecution of nearly two dozen cases of detainee
abuse by contractor personnel referred to the Justice Department. Inquiries
by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) revealed that prosecutors had "declined
to prosecute" nearly all of the cases.

 Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace
Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million
supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning
for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses,
educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever
justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.



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