For Immediate Release: January 15, 2013
Washington, DC – This afternoon, President Obama signed into law a bipartisan bill to extend the Rewards for Justice Program, which pays for information leading to the capture of people wanted for committing acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It also provides rewards for information about “individuals who have committed, or attempted to conspire to commit” certain acts. Human Rights First urged that this language be used to go after not only the perpetrators of mass atrocities but those who support and enable such crimes.
“Joseph Kony’s brutality has made him a household name, and he’s certainly a key focus of this program,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino, who was at the White House for today’s signing. “But this bill has the potential to go beyond the emblematic perpetrators of atrocities and reach those who enable such crimes. Mass atrocities are organized crimes; perpetrators rely on a network of enablers who provide the means–money, weapons, ammunition and transportation–to carry out systematic violence against civilians. The administration should use the rewards program creatively to go after the enablers of mass atrocities, and break the supply chain for the crimes.”
The bill signed into law today was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and co-sponsored by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The bill expands discretion of the Rewards for Justice Program beyond the U.S. Attorney General to “heads of other relevant departments.” The legislation recognizes that the rewards program “is one of the most valuable assets the U.S. Government has in the fight against international terrorism.”
“This legislation is an important signal from the President and the Congress that the United States is committed to bringing war criminals and other perpetrators of atrocities to justice. U.S. leadership on this issue is critical, and this new law strengthens the tools to achieve that goal. Human Rights First congratulates the President and Senator Kerry on their leadership on this important issue,” Massimino observed.