New export product: Dutch Rambo

RNW, Johan van der Tol, 11 January 2011 - Dutch ex-soldiers are increasingly offering their services as private security guards in hazardous regions overseas. There are Dutch firms protecting ships against pirates in the Gulf of Aden. But campaigners are concerned that the private companies are getting round the law and using guns.

The number of private security firms is mushrooming, and increasingly they’re dodging the law, according to a report published this week by the Dutch Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Campagne tegen Wapenhandel (CtW). In the Netherlands and on board Dutch ships it’s illegal for private security guards to use arms. But overseas and for ships sailing under other flags, it's a different matter, says CtW's Mark Akkerman, who investigated the companies:

“As far as we’ve been able to find out, it’s not illegal. The fact that this sort of thing can happen is down to a legal vacuum. In the Netherlands there are clear guidelines on what security guards are and aren’t allowed to do. For one thing, they’re not allowed to be armed. But there are few checks on what these companies do abroad.”

CtW would like to see a clampdown on Dutch Rambos carrying arms in other countries and at sea too.


Combat training
Campaign group CtW is also concerned about firms run by ex-soldiers which give combat training using live ammunition. The courses take place overseas, often in Israel. Participants are usually people who want to work in private security. Mark Akkerman: “In the Netherlands these courses are against the law. We’d like to see it made illegal for Dutch companies to offer them in other countries too.”