Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mercenaries without borders - Part 6

The law adopted by French national assembly reformulated the Protocol  Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977, where it is stated: Art 47. Mercenaries 1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war. 2. A mercenary is any person who: (a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict; (b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities; (c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party; (d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict; (e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and (f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces. It should be noted that many countries, including the United States, are not signatories to the Protocol Additional GC 1977 (APGC77). So although it is the most widely accepted international definition of a mercenary, it is not definitive. Seen the cumulative nature of the six criteria, the French law is not very binding. It merely integrates the juridical qualification of mercenary into the French Code Pénal. In reality the law turns out to be useless since it restrains itself to individual mercenaries only, not PMCs. In Ivory Coast, for example, France was unable to indict the Slavic mercenaries that bombarded the French military on November 6, 2004 in Ivory Coasts second largest city Bouaké, since they were legally they were paid to do so by that countrys army. Legally, the attack had become an act of military aggression of Ivory Coast against France left without any legal base for indicting the mercenaries they had arrested& Even worse, the new law does not forbid any private company to contract with the American army for protective missions that can be performed by experienced former military. In France, the former head of the French Foreign Intelligence Service DGSE, General Jean Heinrich created a fast growing company called Géos that employs about 120 former DGSE members. Géos got a contract to protect the pipeline that goes from Chad to Cameroon. Officially, its spokesman refuses to accept missions belonging in principle to government agencies, but in cases of emergency, and with the green light of the Quai dOrsay, it operates avoiding any direct involvement.

Mercenaries without borders : Indybay