Thursday, November 21, 2019

Trump's Military Pardons Violate International Humanitarian Law, Says UN Human Rights Office

On Tuesday, Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned President Trump's action in pardoning two accused and one convicted war criminals. 

Lieutenant Clint Lorance was tried and convicted for ordering the shooting of Afghanistan civilians in 2013 and handed down a 20-year prison sentence.  Major Mathew Golsteyn was charged with executing an unarmed Afghan man who was a suspected Taliban bombmaker in 2010. He was scheduled to be tried in February.  And Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was charged with murdering a captive in Iraq. He was acquitted but received a demotion for posing with the corpse for a photograph.  Last week, President Trump issued pardons for all three.  

The UN human rights office noted that the US military had proceeded appropriately by charging the three officers and bringing them to trial.  In fact, following the pardon, the Navy Seals nevertheless took action to oust Gallagher from the Seals.  But again, President Trump intervened to overrule the military. 

As Colville explained, pardons were not appropriate under these circumstances.  “While pardons exist in international law, and can properly address issues of injustice or unfairness,” he said, in these cases the President was “simply voiding the otherwise proper process of law.”

“These pardons send a disturbing signal to military forces all around the world," Colville added.

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