Hultgren Acts to Protect Victims of ISIS-Perpetrated Genocide and Assad War Crimes
Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) joined the House of Representatives in supporting and defending victims of genocide and civilians caught in the Syrian conflict from persecution and war crimes, and in holding perpetrators accountable.
H.R. 5732, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, passed the House and would impose sanctions on the Assad regime and other people and entities responsible for supporting or committing war atrocities and human rights abuses in Syria. In addition, Rep. Hultgren has co-sponsored H.R. 5961, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2016. The legislation provides desperately needed humanitarian assistance for internally displaced families in the region, provides priority status for survivors of genocide—Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities—to apply for resettlement to the United States without needing a UN referral, and enables the careful investigation, documentation, and persecution of human rights violations as criminal acts, providing justice and long-term accountability for the perpetrators of these crimes.
“The Syrian conflict has taken the worst toll on the civilian population caught in the crosshairs of warring parties which in many cases have ignored international humanitarian law and basic human dignity. Crimes against humanity committed by ISIS and the Assad regime are simply appalling,” said Rep. Hultgren. “Justice requires not only immediate aid to these victims, but the accountability of the perpetrators to the rule of law. As the conflict continues, it is essential war crimes and human rights abuses such as torture, rape, civilian killings, and the use of chemical weapons are recorded with precision and accuracy so perpetrators can be brought to justice once a peaceful solution is found.
“Further, victims of genocide and persecution need direct assistance in country, and the ability to flee when their lives are threatened. The most vulnerable—women, children, religious and ethnic minorities—should have the ability to apply directly to the United States for assistance and resettlement.”
Among other provisions, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2016:
- Directs the Secretary of State to identify threats of persecution, genocide and war crimes; the needs of survivors of such atrocities; and current assistance reaching these groups.
- Creates Priority Two (P-2) designation for genocide survivors and members of other persecuted religious and ethnic communities. With P-2 status, refugees will be able to apply for resettlement in the United States without needing a referral from the UN, and NGO, or a US Embassy.
- Directs the Secretary of State and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to “provide funding and other assistance to support entities that are conducting criminal investigations, building Syrian and Iraqi investigative and judicial capacity, collecting evidence, and preserving the chain of evidence for eventual prosecution in domestic courts, hybrid courts, and internationalized domestic courts, against perpetrators.”
- Directs the Attorney General to review existing U.S. criminal statutes for gaps in being able to prosecute Americans, or non-Americans present in the United States, for crimes against humanity or war crimes, and recommend whether additional statutory authorities are necessary.
Rep. Randy Hultgren is an Executive-Committee Member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and Commissioner on the Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe) and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.