At its Action Center, Amnesty International is asking citizens to contact their legislators to support a Transparency and Accountability in Security Contracting Act in 2007 that has been proposed by Rep. David Price (D-NC 4th), a Yale Ph.D. in political science and a former Yale professor.  --  The bill "would clarify and coordinate the roles of the U.S. government, military, and contracted personnel by requiring contractors to report on training of personnel, compelling U.S. military officers to issue rules of engagement for contractors, and mandating that contracts include these rules.  Importantly, it would establish an office to coordinate communication and maintain a database of contractor operations."  --  "If passed, this bill would largely answer Amnesty’s call-to-action," Amnesty International USA says....


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TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN SECURITY CONTRACTING ACT OF 2007

Amnesty International USA
2007

Original source: Amnesty International USA

As the United States continues to wage the "war on terror,” it has increasingly outsourced key security and military functions, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, to private companies to carry out the work.

U.S. government and military contractors perform a broad array of functions, from logistical support to security for U.S. government officials to interrogating and translating interrogations of detained persons. But, despite the growing use of contractors, the systems for awarding contracts and managing civilians working for those firms remain decentralized and unclear.

In this environment, serious allegations of contractor involvement in human rights violations -- including the torture at Abu Ghraib and hundreds of shootings, sometimes lethal, at Iraqi civilians -- have emerged, yet Bush administration officials have made virtually no effort to hold contractors accountable or compensate victims.

Amnesty has called on the U.S. government agencies that contract with these companies to report to Congress on incidents of use of force by contractors against detainees and other civilians and on the government to prosecute contractors where clear evidence of their involvement in human rights violations exists. Amnesty has also called on the government to require all contractor personnel to be trained in human rights and humanitarian law, and to require all contracted firms to effectively screen any personnel who will be fulfilling a U.S. military or security contract. Yet to date, the government has made little progress on these demands.

In an encouraging development, Representative David Price (D-NC 4th) has proposed legislation, the Transparency and Accountability in Security Contracting Act of 2007. If passed, this bill would largely answer Amnesty’s call-to-action.

The proposed act would clarify and coordinate the roles of the U.S. government, military, and contracted personnel by requiring contractors to report on training of personnel, compelling U.S. military officers to issue rules of engagement for contractors, and mandating that contracts include these rules. Importantly, it would establish an office to coordinate communication and maintain a database of contractor operations.

The bill would require reporting of incidents of use of force and would extend jurisdiction of U.S. civilian courts to security contractors operating in any “contingency operation.” It addresses current gaps in the U.S. ability to investigate and prosecute misconduct by clarifying that this responsibility rests with the Department of Justice and by establishing an investigative unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the area of U.S. operations, helping to ensure greater accountability under U.S. law.

So far, the bill has 34 bipartisan co-sponsors. But to pass, it needs more support in Congress. Amnesty International urges you to contact your representative to sign onto this bill as a co-sponsor. This bill, if passed, will help bring clarity, transparency, and accountability to the U.S. government and military’s outsourcing of the “war on terror.”

You can help ensure that companies hired by the U.S. government do not continue to enjoy impunity for serious human rights violations by asking your representatives in Congress to co-sponsor the Transparency and Accountability in Security Contracting Act of 2007.

Learn more about Amnesty International USA's efforts to hold private military contractors accountable for human rights violations in the "war on terror."

Join the Corporate Action Network to find out more ways you can take action to ensure private military companies and other corporate actors are upholding human rights.