January 2, 2008


[Full article after this short commentary…]
On March 31, 2006 we ran a story criticising the Bush administration for having no interest in prosecuting Srebrenica genocide suspects hiding in the U.S.
We also covered dozens of articles about Srebrenica genocide suspects being arrested and tried only on immigration violation charges. The Genocide Accountability Act closes a loophole that prevented the U.S. from prosecuting perpetrators of genocide in Srebrenica. We call upon the U.S. authorities to immediately re-arrest Serb Army suspects who were involved in Srebrenica Genocide and charged with (or acquitted of) immigration violation charges. They should be re-arrested and tried on Genocide related charges immediately (here is a list of some of the suspects). Special Thank You for Genocide Accountability Act goes to: Professor Diane Orentlicher, Congressmen Howard Berman, President George Bush who signed it and each and everyone of you who worked on this law being enacted.


Press Release
Wendy Sefsaf

Washington D.C. — The Open Society Institute hailed the coming into force of the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007. President Bush signed the bill into law following its unanimous approval by Congress.

The new legislation fills a critical gap in the law by permitting the U.S. government to prosecute people in the United States who are believed to have committed genocide abroad.

“By passing the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, Congress has struck a major blow against the impunity that sustains perpetrators of ghastly crimes. From now on, those who have violated the basic code of humanity will know they cannot find sanctuary here,” said Diane Orentlicher, currently Special Counsel to the Open Society Institute and professor at American University’s Washington College of Law.

Prior to enactment of this law, a non-U.S. national accused of committing genocide abroad could only be tried for a lesser crimes—such a visa fraud—or be deported to their country of citizenship, where prosecution might be unlikely or impossible.

In Senate testimony in February 2007, Orentlicher in her capacity as a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, urged Congress to consider “legislation that would enable U.S. courts to prosecute individuals suspected of genocide . . . when they are present in U.S. territory.” Following the hearing, Senators Durbin Coburn, Leahy and Cornyn introduced S.888, the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, which the Senate approved by unanimous consent.

Congressmen Howard Berman introduced an identical bill to the House, and in October 23, 2007, Orentlicher, again in her capacity as a professor at American University, testified in support of the bill before the House Subcommittee and urged swift enactment of the legislation. She cited the example of Ratko Maslenjak, a member of an infamous Serb military unit connected to the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica—judged by two international courts to constitute genocide. But instead of facing trial for genocide, he was merely convicted of lying about his service in the Srebrenica unit when he applied for his green card.

The President signed the bill into law on December 21, 2007. OSI welcomes the law as a critical step forward toward meeting the American obligation to prevent and punish acts of genocide, and calls on the US government to vigorously enforce this statute.

  1. Owen
    January 4, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Too many aren’t even bothering to hide in Bosnia.

    I’ve just been listening to a CBC documentary by Karin Wells about Bakira Hasesic on World Service. She and her colleagues are courageous and determined woman, but what they are doing should not be left to victims’ groups to do.

    Republika Srpska is simply a moral cesspit and it’s hard to accept that an entity that not only owes its existence to genocide and ethnic cleansing but institutionalises the impunity of perpetrators should have any legal status whatsoever.

  2. Taras
    January 4, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Until the perpetrators of the Srebrenica genocide who set foot on American soil are brought to justice, the Statue of Liberty should hang her head in shame.

  3. Editor
    January 4, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Owen and Taras, thank you for commenting.

    Previously, genocide was only considered a crime if it was committed within the United States or by a U.S. national outside the United States. The Genocide Accountability Act has closed the current loophole by amending the Genocide Convention Implementation Act to allow prosecution of non-U.S. citizens for genocide committed outside the U.S.

    As Senator Leahy stated back in March 2007 when the bill passed the Senate, and I will quote him:

    “This bill allows for prosecution of those found in the United States who have participated in horrific acts against humanity in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur, and it gives federal prosecutors the tools they need to bring these people to justice.”

  4. Kirk Johnson
    January 6, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Owen, you are absolutely correct about RS. As the years past, Dayton looks more and more craven and cowardly by the West

  5. Owen
    January 8, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Kirk, it’s not just Dayton itself, it’s the way that justifying and maintaining the Dayton settlement has shaped the way that the major powers have dealt with the residual issues, in particular dealing with the perpetrators.

    Florence Hartmann doesn’t go in for shades of grey in Paix et Chatiment but when she accuses the UK, the US and France of routinely undermining the efforts of the ICTY the bottom line is that Mladic and Karadzic are *still* at liberty and she argues that essentially that for reasons to do with achieving the Dayton agreement and securing the stability of the Dayton settlement.

  6. Anonymous
    May 29, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Which policitan oppose this act? If so, which Republican, Democrat, Liberal and Conservative oppse it. they should be humilitaed. Also Moveon.org try to oppose this act, even it founder Eli Prasier in the past try to white wash Milosevic crimes due to presure from their allies of ICA/ANSWER . It’s time to publicly humilted Milosevic supporters who hide behind the GOP, The Democrats and the Greens. Even shame Rush Limbauge and Arian Huffinton who back Milosevic

    Nuff say

    From the Son of 1776

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: