The United Nations (UN) has faulted United States (US) President, Donald Trump’s pardon of four citizens convicted of killing Iraqi civilians while working as contractors in the middle-east country.
UN added that the pardon of four convicted contractors, who in 2007 killed 14 citizens of their host country, violating U.S. obligations under international law, was faulty and should be reversed.
Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder, while Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard were convicted of voluntary and attempted manslaughter, over the incident in which U.S. contractors opened fire in busy traffic in a Baghdad square and killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians.
The four contractors, who worked for the private security firm Blackwater owned by the brother of Trump’s education secretary, were included in a wave of pre-Christmas pardons announced by the White House.
Faulting the pardon, U.N. human rights experts, in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday, cited the Geneva Conventions that oblige states to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes, even when they act as private security contractors.
The chair of the U.N. working group on the use of mercenaries, Jelena Aparac, said: “Pardoning the Blackwater contractors is an affront to justice and to the victims of the Nisour Square massacre and their families.
“These pardons violate U.S. obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law and human rights at a global level”, she added.
By allowing private security contractors to “operate with impunity in armed conflicts”, states would be emboldened to circumvent their obligations under humanitarian law.
The pardons were strongly criticised by many in the country including General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, respectively commander of U.S. forces and U.S. ambassador in Iraq at the time of the incident, describing the president’s pardons damaging and that it signaled the world that Americans abroad can commit the most heinous crimes with impunity”.
In a statement announcing the pardons, the White House said the move was “broadly supported by the public” and backed by a number of Republican lawmakers.