Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Legal Issues
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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U.S. Government departments and agencies contributing to combat or stability operations overseas are relying on private firms to perform a wider scope of security services than was previously the case. The use of private security contractors PSCs to protect personnel and property in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a subject of debate in the press, in Congress, and in the international community. While PSCs are widely viewed as being vital to U.S. efforts in the region, many Members are concerned about transparency, accountability, and legal and symbolic issues raised by the use of armed civilians to perform security tasks formerly performed by military personnel, as well as the adverse impact PSCs may be having on U.S. counterinsurgency efforts. This report discusses the legal framework that applies to PSCs in Iraq and Afghanistan. After presenting a general description of the types of law applicable, including international humanitarian law and relevant status of forces agreements, the report addresses some implications of international law and a multilateral proposal for the adoption of international best practices regarding the use of PSCs. The report follows up with a discussion of jurisdiction over PSC personnel in U.S. courts, whether federal or military courts, identifying possible means of prosecuting contractor personnel who are accused of violating the law overseas in the context of U.S. military operations, including a listing of known cases that have occurred or are pending. Finally, the report briefly discusses the possible implication of the roles of private security contractors with respect to inherently governmental functions.
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics