According to UN human rights experts, the pardons of four mercenaries from the security company Blackwater by US President Donald Trump violate international law. This is an affront to the judiciary and the victims of the massacre and their families, said the chairman of the UN working group Jelena Aparac.
According to the Geneva Conventions, states are obliged to bring war criminals to justice. By allowing private security companies to “operate with impunity in armed conflict,” states would be encouraged to circumvent humanitarian law. Trump’s decision encourages further abuse.
Four Blackwater mercenaries convicted
Trump had pardoned a number of people before Christmas, including mercenaries deployed in Iraq on behalf of Blackwater.
The four Blackwater employees were stationed in Iraq in 2007 on behalf of the USA. The men opened fire in a square in Baghdad, killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians. They were then sentenced to long terms. The shooter who opened fire was given a life sentence. The men had argued that they had acted in self-defense.
The killings at Nisur Square had sparked a debate about the use of private security companies by the US Army. Blackwater then lost his license in Iraq. The company subsequently changed its name several times and finally merged with other companies to form the Constellis Group. A subsidiary of Constellis, the so-called Olive Group, is now active in Iraq.
The pardons had also been heavily criticized in the United States. General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, commanders of the US armed forces and US ambassador to Iraq at the time of the incident, called Trump’s pardons “extremely harmful, an act that tells 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 “largely publicly supported,” as well as by a number of Republican MPs.