For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 


Iraq Withdraw Underscores Need for Contractor Accountability

WASHINGTON - Today, in response to the Obama Administration’s announcement that U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of this year, Human Rights First’s Melina Milazzo issued the following statement:

“As U.S. troops come home, thousands of private security contractors employed by the State Department will be deployed to Iraq to fill that void. While these contractors will perform critical security-related functions, they will operate in Iraq without an effective U.S. system of contractor accountability and oversight in place.

“It’s unthinkable that four years after State Department private security contractors killed 17 unarmed civilians and wounded dozens more in Nisoor Square, Iraq, the U.S. government has failed to pass legislation to remedy this problem. It is time to address this serious gap in U.S. law and pass legislation to give U.S. courts criminal jurisdiction over all private security contractors employed by the State Department. The Obama Administration and Congress should immediately work together to pass the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA) of 2011, legislation designed to fix this problem. Failure to do so before the Iraq withdrawal would be irresponsible.”

To learn more about this issue read Human Rights First 2010 report on private security contractor oversight and accountability, as well as the organization’s recent update to that document.

For more information or to speak with Milazzo, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at 202-370-3323 or


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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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