Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Security Firms Agree Not to Use Forced Labor

Private security companies sign code of conduct
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS November 9, 2010, 4:48AM ET

Major private security companies have signed a code of conduct pledging to respect human rights and the rule of law in conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

DynCorp International, G4S and Xe Services are among the firms signing the code Tuesday in the Swiss city of Geneva. North Carolina-based Xe Services was formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide.

The code developed by industry and government representatives requires companies to ensure their employees "take all necessary steps to avoid the use of force."

It also forbids mistreatment of detainees, sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Signatories, non-governmental groups and governments who employ them still have to agree how companies' compliance will be monitored and by whom.


Several major security firms gathered in Geneva to sign an agreement stating they would not allow their employees to use forced labor or engage in sexual exploitation. Several of these organizations have been in the news for an array of allegations about rights abuse violations including human trafficking. It does not provide much comfort that at this point no arrangement was determined on how this agreement will be monitored and enforced. These security forces provide vital services in Iraq and Afghanistan but are largely viewed as being above the law both in the communities they work in and by the American people. Despite their negative public image, this is a step in the right direction and the agreement has the potential to hold security firms accountable, but only if enforced.

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