FILE - A document sits in front of President Donald Trump on his desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Oct. 11, 2019.
FILE - A document sits in front of President Donald Trump on his desk in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Oct. 11, 2019.

GENEVA - The U.N. human rights office says it's “very concerned” about U.S. President Donald Trump's exoneration of three U.S. servicemen accused of war crimes, calling one pardon in a pending case “particularly troubling.”

U.N. officials say the three cases involve serious violations of international humanitarian law, including the shooting of a group of civilians and execution of a captured member of an armed group.  

U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville says President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon these men sends a disturbing signal to military forces around the world. He told VOA war crimes are the most serious offenses that exist.

“They very clearly are prohibited under international conventions, Geneva Conventions and so on and international humanitarian law.  People who commit serious crimes should be held accountable. Perhaps the sad thing in this case is they were being held accountable.  And, for someone to be pardoned even before the case is concluded is particularly disturbing,” Colville said.

Trump pardoned two servicemen whose cases had been fully adjudicated by a U.S. military tribunal which convicted the men of war crimes. Trump, however, pardoned the third man, Major Mathew Golsteyn, while the criminal case against him was still ongoing.

Colville said this case is particularly troubling as it cut short the regular judicial process.

‘While pardons exist in international law, and can properly address issues of injustice or unfairness, in the present cases no circumstances have been advanced to suggest anything other than simply voiding the otherwise proper processes of law in the cases.”  

Colville noted the last time pardons of this nature occurred was during the Vietnam War.