For Immediate Release

Blackwater Will Exit but Contractor Problem Persists

WASHINGTON - Even after Blackwater leaves Iraq now that the Iraqi government has
denied them an operation license, the United States government will
continue to employ tens of thousands of contractors in Iraq and
Afghanistan with insufficient means to hold them to account. In fact,
the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) predicts
that reliance on private security contractors in Iraq is likely to
increase as US forces withdraw.

"For far too long private contractors operating in Iraq and
Afghanistan have operated above the law," said Devon Chaffee, Advocacy
Counsel for Human Rights First. "Contractors perform a necessary and
often courageous service, but holding them accountable is essential to
maintaining the credibility of our efforts and our reputation as a
nation that upholds the rule of law."


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President Barak Obama should continue the efforts he began in the
Senate to clarify and expand U.S. extraterritorial criminal
jurisdiction over contractors and he should support the work of the
Commission on Wartime Contracting, which is holding its first public
hearing today. Moreover, the Attorney General should make prosecution
of contractor crime a priority and allocate the necessary resources for
pending and future investigations and prosecutions.

In November 2008, Human Rights First issued three-stage blueprint
that sets forth concrete recommendations for action by then
President-elect Obama beginning on day one and continuing through the
first year of the next administration. The blueprint, How to End Impunity for Private Security and Other Contractors: Blueprint for the Next Administration,
is the third in a series of strategy papers released by Human Rights
First to guide the next administration in restoring American leadership
in human rights in critical spheres. In January, Human Rights First
released a comprehensive report, Private Security Contractors at War: Ending the Culture of Impunity,
that laid out the broad problem of contractor impunity, analyzed the
current legal framework, and set forth detailed recommendations to
establish accountability.


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