UK security firm Aegis accused of failing to check if mercenaries it employed to work in Iraq were former child soldiers

Author: Alice Ross, Guardian (UK), Published on: 19 April 2016

A former senior director at a British firm says that it employed mercenaries from Sierra Leone to work in Iraq because they were cheaper than Europeans and did not check if they were former child soldiers. James Ellery, who was a director of Aegis Defence Services between 2005 and 2015, said that contractors had a “duty” to recruit from countries such as Sierra Leone, “where there’s high unemployment and a decent workforce”, in order to reduce costs for the US presence in Iraq...Ellery, who said he was speaking in a personal capacity, told the Guardian that it would be “quite wrong” to ask whether people had ever been child soldiers, as it would penalise people for things they had often been forced into doing...Aegis was taken over last year by GardaWorld, a Canadian security company. Graham Binns, Aegis’s former CEO and GardaWorld’s senior managing director, told the Guardian: “We worked very closely with our audited, vetted and authorised agents to recruit, vet and screen our professionals. Our agents were authorised [as was the employment of individuals] by the relevant national government of the countries from which we recruited. “Aegis takes issues pertinent to our industry, such as post-traumatic stress very seriously, and has worked closely with experts in the field to develop and implement procedures for the management of trauma risk.”

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Related companies: Aegis Defence Services (part of Aegis Group) Aegis Group GardaWorld