Experts say that President Trump’s pardon of four Blackwater contractors who were convicted of killing more than a dozen Iraqis in 2007 violates international law, Reuters reports. The president’s move to pardon Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard is "an affront to justice and to the victims of the Nisour Square massacre and their families," the UN’s Jelena Aparac said in a statement. The Blackwater contractors killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including two children, when they opened fire on the busy square in Baghdad with machine guns, grenade launchers, and a sniper, according to the Independent.
Per the Geneva Conventions, war criminals must be held accountable for their crimes, even if they are private contractors, according to a UN working group on the use of mercenaries. The pardons of the Blackwater contractors "violate US obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law and human rights at a global level," the UN experts said. Other countries, per the UN panel, will see the pardons as a greenlight to ignore their obligations under humanitarian law. Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, US officials overseeing policy in Iraq when the killings occurred, criticized the pardons in a joint statement as "hugely damaging," according to Reuters. (Read more Blackwater stories.)