Strengthening Partnerships to Hold Human Rights Violators Accountable

June 25, 2012

This blog post appears courtesy of the Criminal Division

For decades, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division has aggressively pursued justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and human rights violations.  The division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) employs a number of different criminal and civil enforcement tools to hold accountable the perpetrators of these unspeakable crimes and to ensure such perpetrators are not granted safe haven in the United States. 

Recently, the Obama Administration announced the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board to strengthen government-wide efforts to prevent and respond to genocide and atrocities. 

To further the mission of the Atrocities Prevention Board and the Justice Department’s human rights enforcement program, on June 13th, the Criminal Division, the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) co-hosted a roundtable discussion with more than 30 human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to discuss how law enforcement and NGOs can work together in this area. 

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, Chief of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division Ralph Boelter, ICE Director John Morton, HRSP attorneys, and FBI, ICE and State Department officials participated in the discussion on behalf of the government. 

Government and NGO participants discussed strategies to increase coordination in human rights enforcement.  Human rights investigations and prosecutions present unique challenges for law enforcement and NGOs can play a critical role in overcoming these challenges by providing information regarding potential evidence, witnesses, suspects and area expertise.

Strong NGO partnerships will ensure the Justice Department’s continued success in holding accountable human rights violators.  In recent years, the department secured a 10-year sentence in an immigration fraud case against a former Guatemalan special forces soldier who lied about his participation in the Dos Erres massacre; a 97-year sentence against Chuckie Taylor for crimes related to the torture of people in Liberia; and a trial conviction in an immigration fraud case against a former member of the Zvornik Brigade who lied about his participation in the  Bosnian war, among other cases.

In addition to working with NGOs, the department actively seeks out information from members of the public that may assist in identifying human rights violators in the United States.  To report information, visit this website.

Learn more about HRSP here.  Learn more about the Atrocities Prevention Board here.

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