5 February 2013

Liberia: Defense Minister Accuses Arcelormittal of Hiring Mercenaries

Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai has categorically accused the world's largest steel producer, multinational steel manufacturing corporation, ArcelorMittal-Liberia of hiring mercenaries. Speaking to newsmen in Monrovia last weekend, Defense Minister Samukai intimated that according to reports, ArcelorMittal-Liberia has gone ahead to hire a private company of ex- security personnel comprising foreigners to protect the company's ship during the period of offloading.

He termed such "act" on the part of ArcelorMittal-Liberia as something that is "completely unacceptable," adding that information available to him indicates that the foreign security firm hired by ArcelorMittal-Liberia, the International Security Services (ISS) is contemplating bringing weapons into the country.

Listen to Defense Minister Samukai: "We have already begun to get information that these are former military personnel or security personnel; these are mercenaries, if you want to call them that."

He averred: "I do not believe that we should begin to tolerate something that is unacceptable," averring that If Liberia's territorial waters have challenges, and ArcelorMittal-Liberia needs protection, the company should ask the Government of Liberia to do that rather than "taking million of dollars to hire private mercenaries to protect their ship in our [Liberia] waters."

He stated that the ArcelorMittal-Liberia hired mercenaries are individuals who go around with guns, and they want to use Liberia, adding that "Liberia is not Somalia." He wondered how will the flow of weapons brought in the country by "private individuals" be effectively controlled if other companies operating in Liberia follow the trend of ArcelorMittal-Liberia by hiring groups that will bring weapons into the country.

He pointed out that the United Nations security Council resolution on arms embargo on Liberia states clearly that non-state actors are not authorized to bear arms in the country. But a statement issued in Monrovia early Monday by ArcelorMittal-Liberia asserted that: "ArcelorMittal Liberia does not t hire armed guards and nor does any company contracted to do work for them."

According to the ArcelorMittal-Liberia issued statement, the company clarified that it has not hired ISS (International Security Services) to carry out work for them. "It was alleged that ArcelorMittal Liberia was bringing in armed ex-military officials with ammunitions as security for its ships operating in Buchanan. This is absolutely not true," the company's statement noted.

"We fully abide by the United Nations mandate against arms and under no circumstances will we violate that mandate. ArcelorMittal-Liberia is also committed to abide by the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights that sets out international best-practice standards for security arrangements of industrial operations, the ArcelorMittal-Liberia statement among others added.

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