MEP raises concerns over private military companies

Written by Martin Banks on 6 September 2018 in News

A report by a Polish MEP highlights concerns about what he says is the increasing number of violations of human rights caused by the activities of private military and security companies. 

Karol Karski | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

The report, by ECR group member Karol Karski, was published on Thursday.

It says there has been a rise in human rights violations by private military and security companies (PMSCs).

He presented it at a meeting of Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights. It raises “particular concern” about PMSCs in Russia, currently at the centre of calls by the UK for beefed up EU sanctions in response to the Salisbury poisoning incident.

The Polish deputy, a member of Parliament’s bureau, said the report shows that in the last 20 years the number of such enterprises has significantly grown.

The report states that countries are increasingly delegating not just the maintenance of order in conflict areas, but also fighting, to PMSCs, “resulting in human rights violations in many regions of the world.”

Karski’s report indicates that in the years 2003-2009, there were a number of violations of human rights, including deaths, as a result of the activities of the western private military and security companies, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of the perpetrators were subsequently tried and convicted.

The response to such concerns by the mainstream military-security companies industry was the Montreux Document and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Companies.

However, in recent years, PMSCs have been created and, according to the MEP, used by states from other parts of the world where regulations adopted in the West do not apply.

On Thursday, Karski told this website, “Incidents involving PMSCs from other countries, which operate in the hotspots of Africa and Asia, and even in South America, are increasingly common.”

He added, “The activity of Russian PMSCs, especially the private military company Wagner, is particularly alarming from the perspective of human rights. 

“Russian volunteers or employees of military-security companies were present in 1992 in the areas of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, as well as in Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh and later in Georgia.

The Wagner company is said to participate in the occupation of Crimea, in the Donbas, and its employees were called 'cleaners' which suggests participation in contract killing.”

The MEP said, “Films showing the torturing of prisoners in Syria were published. An attempt by the Wagnerans to occupy an American base and refinery in Syria met with a definite response, but it could provoke a bigger conflict. Recently, Wagner has been operating in Sudan and the Central African Republic, where even according to the Russian press, three Russian journalists were to die.”

The report calls for the introduction of a binding international instrument to regulate PMSCs’ activities in the context of human rights. 

It also supports the working groups of the UN Human Rights Council which aim to create a universal UN convention establishing an international legal regime for regulating PMSCs services to complement state legislation and voluntary regulations in the industry.


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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