By Caribbean News Global
WASHINGTON, USA – On Tuesday, president Donald Trump announced the decision to pardon four security guards from the private military firm Blackwater who were convicted for killing 14 Iraqi civilians.
A statement from the White House said that the four, all military veterans, had “a long history of service to the nation”, arguing the move reflected broad public sentiment in the US. In 2014, a US federal court found the men guilty of murder in one case, while three were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and other charges, according to news reports.
The men were part of a Blackwater team guarding a US diplomatic convoy, and according to the US Justice Department at around noon on September 16, they opened fire at the busy roundabout, believing, they said, that they were coming under attack.
Of the 14 victims hit, ten were men, two were women, and two were boys aged nine and 11. At the time, the killings were condemned around the world.
One of the four now pardoned, one was sentenced to life in prison and the others received 30-year terms, but after appeals and two retrials for one of the men – sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2019 – three of them had their sentences reduced to between 12 and 15 years.
UN Human Rights office spokesperson Marta Hurtado issued the following comments:
“We are deeply concerned by the recent US presidential pardons for four security guards from the private military firm Blackwater who were convicted for killing 14 Iraqi civilians.
These four individuals were given sentences ranging from 12 years to life imprisonment, including on charges of first-degree murder. Pardoning them contributes to impunity and has the effect of emboldening others to commit such crimes in the future.
By investigating these crimes and completing legal proceedings, the US complied with its obligations under international law. Victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law also have the right to a remedy. This includes the right to see perpetrators serve punishments proportionate to the seriousness of their conduct.
“The UN Human Rights Office calls on the US to renew its commitment to fighting impunity for gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law, as well as to uphold its obligations to ensure accountability for such crimes.”