The Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) is recognizing International Human Rights Day through its programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. In addition, on a global basis, OPDAT has designed and delivered programs addressing human rights issues, including war crimes, gender-based violence, LGBT rights, hate crimes and religious intolerance. Protecting human rights by encouraging due process is a hallmark of all OPDAT programs. Throughout Africa, following sustained engagement by OPDAT RLAs and the promotion of remediation efforts to reduce lengthy and unnecessary pre-trial detention, partner countries addressed the human rights concerns and COVID-19 health risks in their prison populations. In Ethiopia for example, over 44,000 detainees and prisoners were selectively released. At AFRICOM, OPDAT increased awareness about international humanitarian law and the need for collaboration between the military and civilian legal sectors in combatting terrorism.
Working together with other Justice Department components and U.S. interagency partners, OPDAT also provides capacity building to foreign countries on investigating and prosecuting human rights violations where they occur. In Bosnia, for example, following his removal from the United States by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Slobo Maric was convicted of war crimes in January 2020. OPDAT provided case-based mentoring to the Bosnian prosecutors, including on the pending appeal.