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War by ContractHuman Rights, Humanitarian Law, and Private Contractors$
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Francesco Francioni and Natalino Ronzitti

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604555

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604555.001.0001

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Immunity for Private Military Contractors: Legal Hurdles or Political Snags?

Immunity for Private Military Contractors: Legal Hurdles or Political Snags?

(p.448) 22 Immunity for Private Military Contractors: Legal Hurdles or Political Snags?
War by Contract

Micaela Frulli

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the extent to which different kinds of immunities may bar legal proceedings against PMSCs end their employees. Firstly, it addresses the issue of immunity from criminal jurisdiction. The conclusion is that often immunity of private contractors from criminal jurisdiction does not depend on the application of immunity rules, but stems from the combination of a lack of applicable rules to exercise criminal jurisdiction and a lack of political will to proceed. For civil proceedings, the most relevant obstacle that has prevented courts from exercising their jurisdiction over private military and security companies (PMSCs) is the ‘political question doctrine’. This doctrine and similar ones, crafted to protect the exercise of governmental functions, should be narrowly interpreted. In particular, there should be no bar on judicial review when human rights violations occur, since governments themselves are bound to ensure respect for human rights and should foster a culture of accountability.

Keywords:   immunities, criminal jurisdiction, immunity rules, political will, civil proceedings

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