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UN Mission Probes Private Security Groups

Chaired by Colombian expert Amada Benavides, the U.N. working group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination visited Peru from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 as part of its mandate to investigate security firms that recruit mercenaries and violate human rights. The working group gathered information on more than 1,000 former members of the Peruvian military and police hired by private security companies which offered them contracts that do not comply with international standards, and sent them to Iraq and Afghanistan. It also investigated the case of Father Marco Antonio Arana, a Catholic priest who heads a grassroots human rights and environmental movement. Arana has reported harassment by the Forza company, contracted by the powerful Yanacocha mining corporation [owned by Newmont and Compañia de Minas Buenaventura]...But Forza denied any link to "Operación El Diablo" or to C&G Investigaciones...Benavides told IPS that "We are worried about the involvement of security companies in cases of intimidation of defenders of environmental rights and in conflicts between the local population and mining companies."...