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Trump's Pardons For Accused War Criminals Violate International Law: UN

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The United Nations' human rights watchdog has termed the recent presidential pardons for three U.S. service members accused of war crimes as violative of International Humanitarian Law.

On November 15, President Donald Trump signed Executive Grant of Clemency for Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance and Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, and an order directing the promotion of Special Warfare Operator Edward R. Gallagher to the grade of E-7, the rank he held before he was tried and found not guilty of nearly all of the charges against him.

These three cases involve serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), both proven and alleged, including the shooting of a group of civilians and execution of a captured member of an armed group, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville said in a statement Tuesday.

In July 2012, Lt. Lorance, who was in command of his platoon in Afghanistan, ordered to shoot three men who approached them with unusual speed on a motorcycle. Two of the potential attackers were killed. Following the incident, Lorance received a 19-year sentence. He has served more than six years in jail.

The White House stated that Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress.

Major Mathew Golsteyn was charged with executing a suspected Taliban bomb maker after he was detained and questioned in 2010. Golsteyn said he shot the terrorist because he was certain that his bomb-making activities would continue to threaten American troops and their Afghan partners.

After nearly a decade-long inquiry and multiple investigations, he was scheduled to be tried in February.

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was charged with murdering a captive in Iraq.

Before the prosecution, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor, the White House says.

Although he was later acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome.

Colville said the full pardons in two cases, and the order directing promotion in the third case, run against the letter and the spirit of international law which requires accountability for such violations.

The pardon terminating pending criminal proceedings in the case of Major Mathew Golsteyn is particularly troubling, as it cuts short the regular judicial process, he noted.

"These pardons send a disturbing signal to military forces all around the world," the spokesperson told reporters in Geneva.

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