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A compendium of concrete good practices to security and human rights challenges aimed at companies, security providers, civil society, national regulators and other practitioners


2.4. Vetting

a) Vetting of public security forces may be very sensitive and difficult (or illegal) to conduct, particularly in fragile states and in post-conflict contexts. The lack of relevant information, such as personnel records, may make it impossible to conduct background checks as recommended in various guidance documents.


Good Practices*

Maintain close relationships with different echelons of public security forces and actively seek opportunities to discuss vetting procedures

In collaboration with the relevant government authorities, identify which institutions should be consulted in order to conduct background checks

Establish procedures to help ensure that individuals allegedly implicated in human rights abuses do not provide security services for companies

  • Include a clause in the MoU establishing that no one allegedly implicated in past human rights and international humanitarian law abuses (i.e. there is a conviction, pending case or very strong evidence) provide security to the company. (IGTs: 45)
  • Provide additional monitoring of activities of security forces in the company’s area of operations where there are allegations of misconduct.
  • When there is a credible and verified report of human rights abuses and/or international humanitarian law violations, require that the concerned individual(s) is/are withdrawn from the site until an official investigation is concluded. (MIGA: II-12)

Use multiple sources to obtain relevant information

  • When legally authorised, “conduct an official check of police records for any outstanding criminal warrants on prospective candidates”. (MIGA: II-11)
  • Study history of abuses in the region. If information on individuals within public security forces providing security to the company is not available/accessible, investigate the historical conduct of public security forces in the region, focusing on any allegations of misconduct or abuse. (IGTs: 38)
  • Obtain information on one particular risk from three or more different sources. Potential sources may include: the web, official media, international and local NGOs, organisations from the United Nations family, other businesses, community leaders and members, independent consultancies, home country embassies, industry associations, etc. (IGTs: 24) “Women’s community organisations can be useful sources of information as they may have intimate knowledge of individual community members.”[5]
  • Protect source confidentiality. “Some information sources may be putting themselves at risk in disclosing information.” (IGTs: 24) There are ways of using the information received without having to disclose the source. For instance, part of this information may actually be publicly available or it may help identify other actors that could know more about the issue and would be ready to act as witnesses.
  • Establish at least one of the following mechanisms to allow for anonymous reporting of human rights abuses (MIGA: III-16):
    • A Report Abuse hotline,
    • “A computer address in the company offices that is solely accessible by a trusted monitor and a secure mailing address”,
    • “Tip boxes” located in areas where individuals have unobserved access to the boxes and can drop in anonymous notes, tips or other information, with clear instructions posted above them.

If appropriate, use the services of a security consultancy company. In some countries, internationally recognised and reputable security companies that specialise in political risk advice, investigations and security consultancy, are capable, and legally allowed, to conduct thorough background investigations that are beyond the scope of a company security department. (MIGA: II-11)

Share information with other stakeholders

  • Establish a regular system of information sharing with other companies, civil society and appropriate organisations.

Support efforts by governments, civil society and multilateral institutions to strengthen state institutions (VPs: 5)

  • Identify security sector reform programmes that could improve vetting of public security forces and explore ways of supporting these activities.
  • Support efforts to promote “fair, objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and merit-based policies and practices on recruitment, salaries, performance evaluation, promotion and professional development” of public security forces. (ITGNs: 105)
  • Identify ways to support training programmes for public security forces on use of force and firearms, human rights and international humanitarian law, and gender related issues. (See Section 2.5. Training)