News

Disney toys made in 'sweatshops'

23 December 2007 - 12:00am

The Sunday Times

Exploitation at a discount

18 December 2007 - 12:00am

'Poverty pay shames clothes stores'

6 December 2007 - 11:09am

Primark, Tesco, Asda, Topshop under fire

Targets of water privatisation have their day in court

5 December 2007 - 4:49pm

The ongoing conflict in Phiri, Soweto in South Africa has pit poor residents against Johannesburg Water Ltd and the City of Johannesburg over free access to water. The Anti Privatisation Forum (APF), supported by War on Want, has been assisting the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) in their efforts to secure a fairer deal for the unrepresented poor majority. The report below comes from the CAWP.

Charity urges mercenary crackdown

4 December 2007 - 12:00am

'Stop mercenaries abuse' call

3 December 2007 - 5:27pm

Miliband pressed on regulation

EMBARGO: 00.01 hrs GMT, Tuesday, 4 December 2007

New evidence revealed today shows a growing tide of human rights abuses in Iraq by private armies as the UK government spends millions of pounds on unregulated mercenaries.

In a briefing, Getting Away with Murder, the anti-poverty charity War on Want lists a series of abuses committed by guards employed by private security companies. These include mercenaries working for the UK group Erinys International, who opened fire on a taxi near Kirkuk, wounding three civilians, in October. In the same month mercenaries from the Australian company Unity Resources Group killed two Iraqi women. In September mercenaries from the American private security company Blackwater killed 17 Iraqi civilians. In November an Iraqi taxi driver was shot dead by mercenaries with DynCorp International, hired to protect US diplomats.

The briefing coincides with the annual conference of the British Association of Private Security Companies in London. War on Want, calling for legislation including a ban on mercenaries' use in combat, cites hundreds of incidents which have involved guards from British firms ArmorGroup and Aegis Defence Services in shootings. In the first four months of 2007 mercenaries working for UK company ArmorGroup were attacked 293 times. Aegis mercenaries have been attacked 168 times in the last three years and have seen eight employees killed, according to its chief executive officer, Tim Spicer. Spicer broke a UN arms embargo on Sierra Leone with his former company Sandline International, and was jailed in Papua New Guinea for earlier activities.

Iraq has turned mercenaries' work into a multi-billion pound industry, with UK private security firms among the biggest winners, increasing profits from £320 million in 2003 to £1.8 billion in 2004. The British government has spent £179 million between 2003/2004 and 2007/2008 on contracts with private security companies in Iraq and £46 million during the same period in Afghanistan.

Erinys International was granted a $100 million contract to guard oil installations and pipelines in Iraq. The UK government has just given ArmorGroup a £20 million annual contract for security services in Afghanistan. In the last 12 months ArmorGroup has received contracts for private security services totalling over $273 million. The firm earned $133 million in Iraq last year. Aegis has won a new contract with the Pentagon worth $475 million over the next two years.

The United Nations working group on mercenaries has renewed its call for regulation by all governments in countries where private security companies are based. In the US the House of Representatives has passed the Military and Security Contracting Act, establishing American control over private security firms. Other bills in the House and Senate call for more wide-ranging oversight and accountability. A bill passed by the Iraqi cabinet, now debated in parliament, seeks to overturn the Coalition Provisional Authority order 17 that had allowed immunity for private security companies.

Ruth Tanner, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Mounting human rights abuses by mercenary firms making a killing in Iraq are fuelling demands for legislation. But while the US and Iraqi governments move towards controls, UK ministers fail to take action. It is high time foreign secretary David Miliband followed suit with strong measures to curb these private armies."

NEWSHOOK: 2.00-9.00 pm Tuesday, 4 December 2007 - Annual conference held by the British Association of Private Security Companies, Royal Geographical Society, Exhibition Road, near 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR

End

Contact: Paul Collins, (+44) (0)7983 550728

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Health Risks lead women workers to demand reform of the Labour Code

21 November 2007 - 6:49pm

On the International Day of Health and Safety 2007, War on Want's partner the Collective of Honduran Women Workers (CODEMUH) presented proposals for reform to Article V of the Labour Code to the National Congress in the presence of many hundreds of women garment workers.

Mining firms 'polluting Africa'

20 November 2007 - 12:00am

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