Canada's Use of Security Contractors Under Scrutiny

Canada has spent more than 41 million Canadian dollars (USD41.5 million) on security companies in Afghanistan over the last four years, including on firms criticized by the U.S. Senate for having warlords on their payroll, documents presented before the Canadian Parliament revealed.

According to the documents, which were requested by the New Democratic Party, the Canadian defense and foreign affairs department have been employing private contractors since 2006. Some of these contractors included companies that a U.S. Senate report found to be relying on Afghan warlords and poaching staff members from local security forces, the Tyee reports.

These contractors were hired despite Canada’s lack of overall policy or laws governing the use of private security companies in Afghanistan, the British Columbia-based magazine notes.

The Canadian International Development Agency explained it does not directly employ security companies. The organizations it hires to implement its programs are the ones employing security contractors, CIDA said. Meantime, the defense department has declined to comment, Tyee notes.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is critical of the use of private security companies in Afghanistan. He ordered the companies out of the country last year but agreed to have security firms register with the government and start paying taxes as a compromise amid concerns over how development teams and aid groups protect themselves.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.