Private security contractors who commit crimes abroad enjoy extensive protection from prosecution. When private security contractors discharge weapons without authorization, the U.S. State Department immediately compels them to make official statements regarding the incidents. The statements are made under the threat of job loss, but are subsequently protected by immunity. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s dismissal of United States v. Slough highlights the difficulties prosecutors face in obtaining untainted evidence as a result of these protected statements. The Department of Justice has no control over grants of immunity to private security contractors and they face substantial obstacles in obtaining independent untainted evidence in war zones. As a result, prosecutors in Slough could not gather sufficient untainted evidence to hold employees of the private security firm Blackwater responsible for the homicide of fourteen Iraqi civilians. This Comment suggests the State Department should adopt procedural changes to avoid future challenges associated with compelled statements and allow successful prosecutions of private security contractors.
Holding Blackwater Accountable: Private Security Contractors and the Protections of Use Immunity,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.
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