Experts say the pardons of four private entrepreneurs convicted of murder in the Baghdad massacre in 2007 violate humanitarian law.
The pardons bestowed by US President Donald Trump on four Blackwater contractors convicted of killing civilians in the Baghdad massacre in 2007 violate US obligations under international law, experts from the United States said on Wednesday. UN.
“The Geneva Conventions oblige states to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes, even when acting as private security providers,” said Jelena Aparac, head of the United Nations working group on the use mercenaries, in a press release.
“These pardons violate United States’ obligations under international law and, more broadly, violate humanitarian and human rights law globally,” she said.
“Taking responsibility for these crimes is fundamental for humanity and for the community of nations.”
#Black water: Pardons granted to four private security contractors convicted of war crimes #Iraq violate #WE obligations under international law, say UN experts. They call on all States party to the Geneva Conventions to condemn pardons 👉 https://t.co/N37RIKLkO5 pic.twitter.com/Kh771RZQDN
– UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) December 30, 2020
Trump granted pardons to the guards on December 22 amid a host of other controversial pardons before stepping down next month.
The four men were found guilty of opening fire on the crowded Nisour Square in Baghdad on September 16, 2007, in a bloody episode that sparked international scandal and heightened resentment over the US presence.
The shooting killed at least 14 Iraqi civilians and injured 17 while perpetuating the image of American security contractors going mad.
Blackwater guards said they acted in self-defense in response to rebel fire.
“The forgiveness of the Blackwater entrepreneurs is an affront to justice and to the victims of the Nisour Square massacre and their families,” Aparac added.
The task force, made up of five independent experts appointed by the UN but who do not speak for the body, warned on Wednesday that countries have an obligation to hold convicted war criminals to account.
“Pardons, amnesties or any other form of exoneration for war crimes open the door to future abuses when states hire private military and security companies for inherent state functions,” the statement said.
The working group expressed deep concern about the practice of allowing private security companies “to operate with impunity in armed conflict”.
This, they warned, could encourage countries to “circumvent their obligations under humanitarian law by increasingly outsourcing basic military operations to the private sector.”