16 Mar 2006

Call for regional action over private security companies

11:37 am on 16 March 2006

There is a call for regional action over the proliferation of private security companies.

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 in Fiji.

She says the companies often employ former special forces soldiers who are highly trained and they're deployed to international conflict zones but could be used within the Pacific.

The call follows an urgent meeting of the foreign ministers of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to discuss, among other issues, what to do about the ongoing presence of former Fiji soldiers in the Papua New Guinea autonomous province of Bougainville.

Dr Shameem says there is too little regulation, and countries within the region need to act.

"First of all, there needs to be investigation into all these companies being set up. Secondly, there should be a question about regulations and whether there are any regional regulations that could monitor what's going on, and whether, in fact, there are any national regulations that take care of any issues of security that might arise, or any criminal activities that might happen in any of these countries."

Dr Shaista Shameem says New Zealand, as the only country to sign up to the U.N. Convention on Mercenaries, could lead the way in this issue.