The pardon by US President Donald Trump of contractors of the private military company Blackwater, responsible for the murder of civilians in Iraq in 2007, is an “insult to justice.” This opinion was expressed on Wednesday in Geneva by experts who are members of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries.
“Pardoning Blackwater contractors is an affront to justice and to the victims of the Nisour Square massacre [in Baghdad], as well as to their families,” said Elena Aparak, rapporteur of the working group.
Following the Geneva Conventions, she recalled that States are obliged to hold war criminals accountable for their actions, even if they act as private security contractors. “This pardon is contrary to US obligations under international law, and in a broader sense, undermines humanitarian law and human rights at the global level,” said Aparak. Pardons and amnesties, as well as other forms of acquittal for those guilty of war crimes, “open the door to future abuses,” she concluded.
The Working Group on the Use of mercenaries was established in July 2005 by the UN Commission on Human Rights. It consists of five independent experts and is authorized to monitor the use of mercenaries, study and identify related problems, their impact on human rights, particularly on the right of peoples to self-determination. The UN Human Rights Council, which replaced the commission, renewed the working group’s mandate for three years in 2019.