U.S. Jurisdiction over Genocide, Human Trafficking, and Child Soldiers
According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 1,000 individuals who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide currently live in the United States free from the threat of prosecution. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) wants that to change:
America has become a haven for the world’s war criminals because it lacks the laws needed to prosecute them, Sen. Richard Durbin… said Wednesday. There’s been only one U.S. indictment of someone suspected of a serious human-rights abuse. Durbin said torture was the only serious human-rights violation that was a crime under American law when committed outside the United States by a non-American national.
“This is unacceptable. Our laws must change and our determination to end this shameful situation must become a priority,” Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, said at a hearing of the subcommittee Wednesday.
Senator Durbin is putting his money where his mouth is. He and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) — strange bedfellows indeed — have introduced bills that would give U.S. courts conditional universal jurisdiction over genocide, human trafficking, and the recruitment of child soldiers. The Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, S. 888, has passed the Senate; its counterpart, HR. 2489, has been introduced in the House. The Trafficking in Persons Accountability Act of 2007, S. 1703, and Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2007, S. 2135, are currently pending in the Senate.
Kudos to Senators Durbin and Coburn!