Posts Tagged Legal News

Legal News: Did Russia Just Legalize PMSC’s?

I am at the ends of my research on this. What I wanted to do is put this out there to see if anyone has anything to add to this? I do not speak or read Russian or follow Russian legal stuff. I do try to follow what countries are actually doing with private forces though.

In the past I have posted about Russia wanting to legalize PMSC’s and the legal effort seemed to go nowhere. The Slavonic Corps in Syria highlighted the idea that legally speaking, Russian law had not caught up with Russia’s use of PMSC’s.  I believe that Ukraine and Syria have become testbeds for Russia’s use of private forces, and it makes sense that their use would finally be legalized.

The other reason why I bring this up, is apparently Russia has been awarding medals to contractors that were killed in places like Syria? That sounds like official recognition of private forces to me.

Back to this Law No. 53 mentioned below. Does it cancel out Article 348 of the Russian Criminal Code, which makes mercenary work illegal? I only have this one article from Zeit Online that talks about this deal. Here is the clip below.  –Matt

Edit: 02/08/2017 RT reported that the Duma passed some legislation in December of last year, which aligns with the time period that Zeit discusses. Check it out here.

A Little Known Change in the Law (February 6, 2017)

Two days before the new year, Vladimir Putting signed a legal amendment. The state-aligned media reported very little about the development and the foreign press hasn’t covered it at all yet. But it could have far-reaching consequences. The change was made to Law No. 53, pertaining to military conscription in Russia. Following the change, the law now states that anyone who has completed basic military service or is a reservist is to be considered a member of the Russian military if that person “prevents international terrorist activities outside the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Given that almost every man in Russia completes military service after finishing school, the new law pertains to almost all Russian men. If they fight against terrorists, they are now considered to be members of the military, even if they don’t officially belong to a unit of the Russian military under the control of the Defense Ministry. In other words: Law No. 53 permits the deployment of Russian mercenaries around the world and allows for augmenting the Russian military with private military firms. The law went into force on Jan. 9, 2017.

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Legal News: Robert Langdon Is Pardoned!

When I heard the news about Robert Langdon being pardoned and released, I was floored. I originally wrote about Robert back when he was imprisoned, and I was trying to get some attention on his case. I mean this guy was sentenced to death at one point, and it is truly remarkable that not only has he survived that system but has been pardoned and released. What a horrible ordeal and I am just glad that he is home with his family.

I also wanted to highlight the outstanding work that Kimberley Motley and Stephen Kenny (the family lawyer) have put into this case. Kimberley is actually licensed to practice law in Afghanistan and has been fighting that pathetic legal system for quite awhile to free contractors that have been wrongly imprisoned. (Bill Shaw and Philip Young are two such examples) I have written about her good work in the past and I think one day, we will see a movie made about her. Truly a legal rock star.

As to Robert Langdon’s story, probably what jumped out at me was the hardships and survival strategies he had to employ as a prisoner at Pul-e-Charkhi prison. Here is a quote from one of the stories below.

In prison, Mr Langdon was under constant threat of violence and was regularly attacked. During his final months in jail, he used a padlock to lock himself in a stinking cell. He had a smuggled mobile phone and a knife he had fashioned from a piece of steel.

I don’t know if he had SERE training in the military, but it sounds like if he had, it would have been very helpful in surviving this prison. Especially being the only expat and especially when some of his cellmates were Al Qaeda and Taliban. Amazing that he survived. –Matt

 

Robert Langdon Free

Lawyer Kimberly Motley signs release papers for Robert Langdon, who spent more than seven years in Kabul’s maximum-security prison. Picture: Jessica Donati, The Wall Street Journal

 

Robert Langdon: Last Western prisoner held in Afghanistan pardoned, flown home to Australia
By Michael Edwards
9 Aug 2016
A former Australian soldier has been released from an Afghan jail after serving seven years for murder.
Robert Langdon initially received a death sentence in 2009 but always maintained his innocence, claiming he killed in self-defence.
His family, after spending years campaigning for his freedom, received the news this week that a presidential pardon had been granted and he was on his way home.
“He certainly has been released and the family, of course, are very very pleased about that,” family lawyer Stephen Kenny said.
Mr Langdon was initially convicted for shooting Afghan colleague Karimullah, when a dispute arose while they were escorting a convoy to an American military base in mid-2009.
He was found guilty of killing the man, and then trying to blame the murder on a Taliban ambush.
The Australian was also accused of setting fire to the dead man’s body and trying to flee the country.
Mr Langdon was sentenced to death but later had his sentence reduced to a 20-year jail term after his family reportedly paid the family of the dead man a substantial sum of money in compensation.

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Legal News: AdvantFort And The MV Seaman Guard Ohio Incident

In 2013, one of AdvanFort’s vessels, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, was transporting its security guards between missions when it was boarded by Indian Police and its crew arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing weapons and illegally taking on fuel.
Two years on and the men, who have spent months in Indian jails and been barred from leaving the country as legal arguments flow back and forth, claim they have been left high and dry by their employer.
The men, who each earned about £3,000 a month, have not been paid since their arrest and AdvanFort has also failed to pay any of their mounting legal costs, according to Lisa Dunn, the sister of detainee Nick Dunn.
A recent hotel bill of about £12,000 was left unpaid by the firm.
“These men are dealing with the consequences for something they haven’t done,” Ms Dunn said.

This is another legal story that needs to get out there. These men have been rotting away in an Indian jail while the trials and politics keep driving this thing. It is ridiculous. What is also ridiculous is how horribly AdvantFort has handled this. (See the quote up top) I imagine the former contractors and family will be pursuing legal action against the company after India finally lets them go. –Matt

 

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Families of Britons facing Indian weapons charges speak out
19 October 2015
The families of British men facing trial in India on weapons charges have spoken out on the second anniversary of their arrest.
John Armstrong, from Wigton, Cumbria, and Nick Dunn, of Ashington, Northumberland, were among six Britons working as maritime security guards on a ship monitoring pirates.
The charges were dropped, but following an appeal by police the Indian Supreme Court ruled a trial must be staged.
It is due to begin shortly.
‘Remain positive’
The men were employed by American-based anti-piracy firm AdvanFort which charges clients up to £60,000 a time for armed guards to escort ships across a high-risk area between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea known as Pirate Alley.
The MV Seaman Guard Ohio was transporting its security guards between missions when it was boarded by police and its crew arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing weapons and illegally taking on fuel.
Mr Armstrong’s sister, Joanne Thomlinson, said: “We tried not to think about the second anniversary too much. I think it’s better to look forward and try to focus on the trial and remain positive.
“I don’t think we’ve got Christmas as a goal [for him to return home] in our heads. It’s difficult to put a timeframe on what’s happening.”
Mr Dunn’s sister, Lisa, told BBC Newcastle: “It affects us every single second of every single day and has done for two years.”

Story here.

AdvanFort accused of abandoning British men facing India trial
7 September 2015
AdvanFort is a maritime security firm that operates anti-piracy escorts in high risk areas
As six British maritime security guards prepare to face trial in India charged with illegal possession of weapons, the company they were working for is accused of abandoning them. But did AdvanFort put the men at risk of being arrested by breaching international laws?
AdvanFort is an American-based anti-piracy firm that charges clients up to £60,000 a time for armed guards to escort ships across a high-risk area between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea known as Pirate Alley.

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Legal News: Leahy, Price Reintroduce CEJA Bill

Interesting news on the legal front. The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act has been brought up before in the past to give DoJ the jurisdiction necessary to prosecute non-military related contractors. Which is a significant portion of US government contractors. This group would include DoS or ‘other government agency’ type contractors, and this legislation would close that gap. Currently the MEJA covers military related contractors.

Why this is important, and especially now, is that contractors currently work in countries where they are not covered by a SOFA or have immunity. They are basically at the mercy of the local judicial process.  CEJA, like MEJA, would give the US government jurisdiction over contractors that it hires for work in these countries that have no SOFA in place to cover them. Iraq is an example of such arrangement and WPS guys and embassy protection forces are there, currently working for DoS.  CEJA would give jurisdiction for prosecution to the US government.

In other words, if you ran into trouble, would you rather be tried in a US legal system or some overseas third world court run by corrupt officials?

Another point with the CEJA is that it further legitimizes the PMSC industry. It helps to take away that argument that we are somehow ‘above the law’ or untouchable. Clients of our services will benefit from having a protective force that can be held accountable.

It will also contribute to a speedier trial. Just ask the contractors involved with the Nisour Square incident, that have been in a legal mess for years. The legal jurisdiction has been a factor.

So we will see where this goes. One critique I do have in regards to this press release is the mention of Jamie Leigh Jones and her case. Whereas the jurisdictional questions about her case are valid to bring up, I find it disingenuous to not mention the fact that she lied about the whole thing.

To read up on the past issues with the CEJA, check out David Isenberg’s commentary on it over the years. Here is a copy of the latest bill and the Congressional Research Service wrote a report on the particulars of why a CEJA is the right thing to do. We will see how the committee treats this one. –Matt

 

Senator Patrick Leahy in a committee.

 

Leahy, Price introduce legislation to hold American contractors overseas accountable
News Release — Sen. Patrick Leahy

July 14, 2014
Contact:?Jessica Brady (w/Leahy) – 202-224-7703?Andrew High (w/Price) – 202-225-1784
Also helps lay groundwork for eventual preclearance arrangements in restoring Vermont-to-Montreal passenger rail service??WASHINGTON (MONDAY, July 14, 2014) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman David Price (D-N.C.) renewed their partnership on bicameral legislation to provide accountability for American contractors and government employees working abroad.
The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA), which the lawmakers introduced Monday, would close a gap in current law and ensure that government employees and contractors working overseas can be prosecuted for criminal acts they commit abroad. The two lawmakers have worked together on the legislation for years.
The legislation allows the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute government contractors and employees for certain crimes committed overseas. Tragedies like the 2007 killing of unarmed civilians in Baghdad by private security contractors with Blackwater underscore the need for clear jurisdiction and trained investigative and prosecutorial task forces able to hold wrongdoers accountable. Four Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square shooting are currently on trial.
“The Blackwater trial is only just now under way, seven years after this tragedy, and the defendants continue to argue in court that the U.S. government does not have jurisdiction to prosecute them,” Senator Leahy said. “This bill would also provide greater protection to American victims of crime, as it would lead to more accountability for crimes committed by U.S. government contractors and employees against Americans working abroad.”

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Legal News: GardaWorld’s Daniel Ménard Thrown In Afghan Jail

This is an interesting one that just popped up on my radar. I found it yesterday and posted it on Facebook, and I received multiple viewpoints on what is going on. Everything from it is all GardaWorld’s fault and Ménard is incompetent, to Gardaworld and Ménard is yet another victim of the Afghan legal system and corrupt officials.

For this deal, I was instantly reminded by the readership, as well as personally recalling all of Afghanistan’s past legal shenanigans.  Doug mentioned the Bill Shaw story where he was thrown in an Afghan jail on false bribery charges. Trevor mentioned the other GardaWorld story of some contractors that got arrested because they had 30 AK’s on them. Funny that, contractors with guns in a war zone? Of course this story was related to the APPF scheme of seizing the weapons of companies–without paying those companies for said weapons.

Another story mentioned was the arrest of Michael Hearn of Global Strategies Group for not registering their weapons. Those weapons according to the company, were parts guns that were not serviceable, used to repair other AKs.  I am sure there are other incidents that I am forgetting, but you get the idea. Kimberly Motley could probably add something to this conversation because of her extensive dealings with the Afghan legal system.

Some other stories of contractors wrongly thrown in Afghan jails include guys like Phillip Young, who thanks to Kimberly’s work, was set free. Another guy I have written about in the past was Robert Langdon, whom is still rotting away in prison.

The other interesting point on this story is Ménard’s  background. Michael Yon was highly critical of this leader back when he was a general in the Canadian Arm Forces posted in Afghanistan.  But even Michael’s current tone is one of being skeptical as to why he is in an Afghan jail.

I imagine the way this will work out is that he will stay in prison until the company or his family pays the fine. Hopefully he doesn’t stay in prison as long as Bill Shaw. Bill spent two years at Pul-e-Charkhi prison and was fined £16,185! Kimberly was also hot on this case and was instrumental in getting him released. –Matt

Edit: 02/19/2014- Daniel was released from detention. Story here.

 

 

 

Former Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard, the former head of Canadian forces in Afghanistan who now works for private security firm GardaWorld, was detained there since about Jan. 12.
By Allan Woods
Jan 29 2014
Former Canadian brigadier-general Daniel Ménard, who was fined and demoted for having a sexual relationship with a female subordinate, has been sitting in an Afghan jail for nearly three weeks, the Toronto Star has learned.
The former head of Canadian forces in the country, who now works for private security firm GardaWorld, was detained on or about Jan. 12. He was picked up by local authorities after leaving a meeting with Afghan government officials to discuss issues related to the development of Afghan security forces, Joe Gavaghan, a spokesman for the company, said in an interview Wednesday.
“He was leaving a meeting at the ministry office and a couple of officials approached him. They said, ‘We’ve got a problem with something and we’d like you to come with us to clear it up.’ Off he went and the next thing he knew he was going to be detained until they cleared it up.”
Ménard has not been charged with breaking any laws, Gavaghan said, adding the incident is based on an “administrative misunderstanding” related to its licence to operate in Afghanistan as a private security firm.
Gavaghan said the former commander of the 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, based out of CFB Valcartier, appeared in a Kabul court Wednesday.
“This involves some kind of administrative issue with our operating licence. It was kind of a technicality. It’s been cleared up and we believe that the individual is going to be released very shortly,” Gavaghan said.
“Right now we’re just trying to do everything we can to make sure there’s no further complications or anything that would delay that.”

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Cool Stuff: The Private Security Monitor–One Stop Shopping For Laws And Regulations For PMSC’s

This is a great resource for those that own PMSC’s, or are looking to start one up. If you want to operate internationally, you need to know the laws and regulations pertaining to running your business in these parts of the world.

For a great interview with the founders of the Private Security Monitor, go to Maritime Security Review’s post. Here is a snippet.

1) What was the driving force for developing the Private Security Monitor web portal and what are the Centre’s principal objectives?

The idea for the Private Security Monitor grew out of a 2011 workshop I hosted at University of California Irvine, part of an on-going collaboration with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). At this workshop, participants from governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and industry focused enhancing transparency around private military and security services. Participants seized upon the idea of building a centralized, online information portal specific to these services and agreed that academic institutions were well-poised to undertake this project. When I was offered a position directing the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at University of Denver’s Korbel School, this became our first major project.

We launched the “Private Security Monitor” publicly in August. The web portal, located at psm.du.edu, provides an annotated guide to regulation, data and analysis of private military and security services. It is a one-stop source for public information on the worldwide use of these services and thus a resource for governments, policy-makers, activists, journalists, and researchers.

And this portion tells what is available to readers.

6) What are the principal benefits for MSR readers and how would you suggest that they use the portal?

There are many useful documents for maritime security providers on the Private Security Monitor site. There is a dedicated IMO section with links to all IMO guidance; a list of leading industry associations and links to industry association reports on the use of privately armed guards aboard ships; organized by country, regulations relevant to the use of private armed guards and carriage of armaments aboard ships; and standards related to the hiring, vetting and training of private security service providers.

Users can scroll through the site to learn about the variety of regulations and regulatory efforts contained therein. They could also search documents according to issue area, document type, geographical area, year or keyword. There is a quick search tab on each substantive page and a more comprehensive search page that can be accessed from the top navigation bar.

Pretty cool and I will keep a link to the PSM over in the links to the right of this blog. –Matt

 

About the Private Security Monitor Project

The Private Security Monitor is an independent research project dedicated to promoting knowledge of and transparency in global private military and security services. The Private Security Monitor’s web portal provides an annotated guide to regulation, data and analysis of private military and security services. It is a one-stop source for public information on the worldwide use of these services and thus a resource for governments, policy-makers, activists, journalists, and researchers.
Housed and maintained at the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, the Private Security Monitor operates in partnership with the Geneva-based Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).
BACKGROUND and FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
The idea for the Private Security Monitor grew out of a 2011 workshop at the University of California, Irvine co-sponsored by UCI’s International Studies Program, DCAF, and the Center for Security, Economics and Technology (CSET) at the University of St. Gallen. At this workshop, participants from governments, international organizations, civil society groups, and industry agreed that lack of transparency was an important problem for the governance of private military and security services and that academic institutions could best contribute to information sharing, research and analysis. Thus the workshop’s first recommendation was for an academic-based project to serve as a one-stop source for information about private military and security services.

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