Experts to Discuss Enhancing Accountability for Private Security Contractors at War

Washington—A distinguished panel– including a former Chief Judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the authors of a landmark new report and a leading expert on war crimes– will brief Hill staffers on the current lack of accountability for private security contractors operating on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. The panel discussion, which will take place Friday, February 8th, from 10-11:30 am in the Capitol Building, Room SC4, will include a number of practical recommendations for addressing and correcting this increasingly dangerous situation.

The presentation will include a discussion of the basic legal framework under which private security contractors operate; impediments to holding contractors criminally responsible for serious crimes committed abroad; the institutional failures of the U.S. government to establish an effective system for holding contractors legally accountable; and the consequences of these failures to U.S. national security, and to the safety of local civilians, American troops, and the contractors themselves. The panelists will also discuss several immediate, practical recommendations for addressing these failures, as well as broader issues posed by the U.S. government’s increasing reliance on private security contractors.

Panelists Kevin Lanigan and Scott Horton are the authors of a recent Human Rights First report, “Private Security Contractors at War: Ending the Culture of Impunity” (January 2008). James Cockayne, who formerly served as Director of the Australian Attorney General’s Transnational Crime and Extradition Units and has worked on war crimes trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and in Sierra Leone, has been involved in research and policy development initiatives on the private security sector for four years, and currently co-manages the International Peace Academy’s Coping with Crisis research and policy-development program. Brigadier General James P. Cullen, USAR (Ret.), former Chief Judge (IMA) of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, currently practices law in New York City with Anderson, Kill & Olick, P.C.


WHAT: Briefing on “Enhancing Accountability for Private Security Contractors at War”

WHO: Kevin Lanigan, Director of Human Rights First’s Law and Security Program

Scott Horton, Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia University

James Cockayne, International Peace Academy

Brigadier General James P. Cullen, USAR (Ret.)

WHEN: 10 – 11:30 a.m. on Friday, February 8th

WHERE: Capitol Building, Room SC4


Published on February 7, 2008


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