15 Mar 2006

Concern over proliferation of private security firms in Fiji

4:32 pm on 15 March 2006

Concern is being voiced about the proliferation of private security firms in Fiji.

The Asia-Pacific representative for the U.N. working group on the use of mercenaries, Dr Shaista Shameem, says there doesn't seem to be any control or monitoring on the security companies that are being set up.

Dr Shameem is speaking out as foreign ministers from the Melanesian Spearhead Group meet today to discuss, among other issues, the ongoing presence of former Fiji soldiers in the Papua New Guinea autonomous province of Bougainville.

She says the private security companies in Fiji often employ former special forces soldiers who are highly trained, and there's little control over what's happening.

"Of course, any private companies can set up to do anything and security companies are no exception. But, these are serious security companies, you know, they're armed or have the potential of being armed. They're also recruiting people for armed conflict zones outside of the Pacific but that's not to say that they also could be recruiting within the Pacific, within the region."

Dr Shameem says there need to be regulations and legislation put in place to control the firms.