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ICRC frets over rules for private security contractors

MONTREUX, Switzerland, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said there are some legal issues on the battlefields of Somalia and Afghanistan for private security contractors.

"Individuals working for private companies outside military chains of command were increasingly armed and engaged in activities typically associated with state armed forces," Christine Beerli, vice president of the ICRC, told delegates at a security conference in Switzerland. "And they were increasingly involved in incidents of concern to the ICRC"

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Beerli was addressing delegates gathered for an annual conference on the Montreux Document, a measure meant to clarify the rules of engagement for private security contractors under international law.

She said there's been some progress made on the security front since the document was enacted in 2008.

"Unfortunately, such training and instructions [on the rules of engagement] are not systematically provided, and there are continued reports depicting excessive uses of force by private contractors in contexts such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia," she said.

Two former U.S. Blackwater contractors were sentenced in April to serve more than two years in a federal prison on charges they killed Afghan civilians in 2009. The security company has gone through several name changes, most recently resurfacing as ACADEMI.

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