Dec 30, 2020 - World

UN experts say Trump's pardon of Blackwater contractors violates international law

Picture of Donald Trump
Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Trump's pardon of four former Blackwater contractors convicted in the 2007 Nisour Square massacre of Iraqi civilians violated international law, United Nations experts said on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The Geneva Conventions require countries to "hold war criminals accountable, even when they act as private security contractors," per UN. By pardoning the four men, Trump directly contradicted and violated these obligations, according to the experts.

Flashback: "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," Reuters writes.

What they're saying: "Pardoning the Blackwater contractors is an affront to justice and to the victims of the Nisour Square massacre and their families," said Jelena Aparac, Chair of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

  • "Ensuring accountability for such crimes is fundamental to humanity and to the community of nations ... Pardons, amnesties, or any other forms of exculpation for war crimes open doors to future abuses when States contract private military and security companies for inherent state functions."

The big picture: Trump pardoned the contractors last week along with a number of Republicans and Trump loyalists — including longtime associate Roger Stone, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Charles Kushner, the father of senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Go deeper