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Mercenary military approved by government

by David Masters
April 28, 2009

War on Want this week attacked foreign secretary David Miliband for leaving mercenary troops to regulate themselves.

Despite repeated calls from MPs and social justice charities for government regulation of private military companies, Miliband said the industry should self-regulate.

He said that privately employed soldiers play a ‘positive and legitimate role’ in war zones, ignoring widespread reports of human rights abuse by mercenaries.

Mercenary companies based in the UK – of which there are around 30 – will not be subject to legislation, Miliband said, but will only have to abide by a code of conduct drawn up jointly by government and industry representatives.

However, War on Want claims that hundreds of human rights abuses in recent wars have involved private military companies.

“The human rights abuses we have seen from private military personnel cry out for proper legislation,” said Yasmin Khan, War on Want’s senior campaigns officer.

Eighteen months ago, two Iraqi citizens were injured by mercenaries working for UK-based Erinys International.

Earlier in 2007, 17 Iraqi civilians were killed in a random attack by mercenaries working for US private military firm Blackwater.

Operations by mercenary soldiers are expected to increase drastically over the next few years as the credit crunch squeeze’s the government’s defence budget, limiting the number of standard British troops that can be hired.

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