GENEVA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Human rights violations committed by mercenaries and private security companies create serious challenges for victims seeking justice and redress, a United Nations (UN) report said Tuesday.
In a report presented to the ongoing 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council, experts from the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries stressed that the use of mercenaries and private security companies increases violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and there is little accountability in this area.
"Deplorable gaps in accountability, access to justice, and remedies for victims of violations perpetrated by such actors are rampant," said Sorcha MacLeod, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group, when presenting the report to the Council.
Reasons for the lack of accountability include the secrecy surrounding the activities of mercenary-related actors, their complex business and corporate structures, issues related to jurisdiction, and gaps in national and international regulation.
"States have obligations under international human rights law to prevent, investigate, and punish violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to provide effective remedies and reparation to victims of mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, and private military and security companies," the report said.
In 2020, the then-President of the United States Donald Trump pardoned four employees of U.S. private military company Blackwater, who had committed massacres and war crimes in Iraq. This led to widespread concern from the international community.
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that pardoning the Blackwater employees contributed to impunity, and emboldened others to commit such crimes. Meanwhile, the chairman of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries said that the pardon was an affront to justice, as well as to victims and their families.
"The Geneva Conventions oblige States to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes, even when they act as private security contractors. These pardons violate U.S. obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law and human rights at a global level," said Jelena Aparac, the then-Chair of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries. ■