Congress has passed legislation to expand a critical initiative that would bolster efforts to arrest and bring justice to individuals wanted for committing acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The State Department's Rewards for Justice Program currently authorizes the payment of rewards to people who provide information leading to the arrest or conviction of individuals wanted by select international criminal tribunals for committing the most serious human rights violations, as well as those sought for terrorism and narcotics-related offenses. The legislation, which has been sent to the President's desk for his signature, would expand the program to target individuals indicted by any international criminal tribunal for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and foreign nationals involved in transnational criminal activity, including human trafficking and arms trafficking.
The House passed the bill, originally authored by Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), by voice vote on Tuesday. The initial legislation, H.R. 4077, was co-sponsored by 57 representatives and was included in the comprehensive State Department legislation, H.R. 6018, passed by the House in July. The Senate companion legislation, S. 2318, was introduced by Senators Kerry (D-MA), Boozman (R-AR), Coons (D-DE), Isakson (R-GA), Landrieu (D-LA), Graham (R-SC), and Durbin (D-IL) and passed by the Senate on December 20. The expansion of the Rewards for Justice Program has been supported by the State and Defense Departments.
The program as expanded could be instrumental in precipitating the arrest and prosecution of some of the world's most wanted, including Joseph Kony and other top commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and other government officials wanted for committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in ...[view whole blog post ]