UN human rights experts say Donald Trump has pardoned four American men accused of killing Iraqi civilians while working as contractors in 2007 in violation of US obligations under international law.
Nicholas Sloton has been convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians by U.S. contractors in a traffic jam in Baghdad Square, and Paul Sluff, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard have attempted voluntary and assassination.
All four contractors, who worked for a private security firm called Blackwater, owned by Trump’s education secretary’s brother, were included in the pre-Christmas apology waves announced by the White House.
“The pardon for Blackwater contractors is an insult to justice and to the victims of the Nisur Square massacre and their families,” the UN said in a statement on the use of mercenaries. Said Jelena Aparak, chair of the executive committee.
The Geneva Conventions force war criminals to be held accountable for their crimes even when acting as private security contractors. “These amnesties violate US obligations under international law and severely undermine humanitarian law and human rights worldwide,” it said.
The panel said states would be brave enough to avoid their obligations under humanitarian law by allowing private security contractors to “act with impunity in armed conflicts”.
The apology has been harshly criticized by many in the United States. During the incident, Trump’s apology to General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, commander of U.S. forces and US ambassadors to Iraq, respectively, was “an act of telling the world that Americans abroad can commit the most heinous crimes without punishment.”
In a statement, the White House said the move was “widely supported by the public” and supported by several Republican lawmakers.