Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

Cardin, Hastings Hail Passage of Human Rights Enforcement Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), today hailed House passage of bipartisan legislation designed to strengthen the federal government’s role in investigating and prosecuting human rights violators taking refuge in the United States.

The Senate approved the measure November 21. The bill passed the House by a vote of 416-3. It now awaits the president signature to become law.

“The passage of this bill sends a message to the world about the U.S. commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law, and signals to human rights abusers that they will not find safe haven in our country,” said Chairman Cardin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a co-sponsor of the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009, S. 1472.

The bill would direct the Attorney General to establish a section within the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice with a mandate to enforce human rights laws. Under the bill, serious human rights offenses include genocide, torture, war crimes or the use or recruitment of child soldiers.

“By creating a human rights division at the Department of Justice, we put institutional force and action behind our words and say to the world that the protection of basic freedoms is a real priority not just rhetoric,” said Co-Chairman Hastings.

Two entities in the Department of Justice are currently responsible for ensuring that perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice. The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) identifies suspected human rights violators who have entered the United States and seeks to prosecute, deport, or extradite them for prosecution abroad The Domestic Security Section (DSS) investigates and prosecutes major human rights violators, particularly those implicated in genocide, torture, and war crimes. This bill provides the Attorney General discretion with respect to merging the offices into one subdivision with the resources, expertise, and jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute, denaturalize, or remove perpetrators of serious human rights crimes.
 

Media contact

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Hearings

My “Hell” in Russian Captivity

Sep 15, 2022

Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine include the brutal and unlawful detention of thousands of Ukrainians. At this hearing, Yuliia “Taira” Paievska, a well-known Ukrainian volunteer medic who was detained in Mariupol in March and held by the Russians for three months, testified about her capture, the deplorable conditions of her captivity, the plight of those […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Ukrainian Medic to Testify on “Hell” in Russian Capt...

Sep 07, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing: MY “HELL” IN RUSSIAN CAPTIVITY Taira Paievska on Russia’s War in Ukraine Thursday, September 15, 2022 9:00 a.m. Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 106 Watch live: www.youtube.com/HelsinkiCommission Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine include the brutal and […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

May 04, 2022

Well-documented Russian bombings and missile strikes in Ukraine have decimated hospitals, schools, and apartment buildings, including a theater in Mariupol where hundreds of children were sheltering and the Kramatorsk rail station where thousands were waiting to escape the Russian onslaught. The withdrawal of Russian troops from towns like Bucha, Chernihiv, and Sumy has revealed horrific […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Russian War Crimes in Ukraine to Be Discussed at Hel...

Apr 28, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing: RUSSIAN WAR CRIMES IN UKRAINE Wednesday, May 4, 2022 NEW TIME: 2:00 p.m. Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 562 Watch live: www.youtube.com/HelsinkiCommission Well-documented Russian bombings and missile strikes in Ukraine have decimated hospitals, schools, and apartment […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Hearing to Examine Ways to Count...

Mar 30, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing: COUNTERING OLIGARCHS, ENABLERS, AND LAWFARE Wednesday, April 6, 2022 2:30 p.m. Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 562 Watch live: www.youtube.com/HelsinkiCommission As influential proxies of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Russian oligarchs work to weaken Western democracies from […]

screen-reader-text
Generic BG 368x331
Briefings

Conflict of Interest?

Feb 16, 2022

Turkey is at a crossroads. Even as the Turkish Government insists that it remains committed to its NATO partners and to future EU integration, its actions—both foreign and domestic—call those promises into question. Turkey has been a steadfast supporter of Ukraine and Turkish officials have announced plans to normalize relations with Armenia and moved to […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Briefing to Examine Intersection...

Feb 10, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following online briefing: CONFLICT OF INTEREST? Foreign Policy and Human Rights in Turkey Wednesday, February 16, 2022 11:00 a.m. Register: https://bit.ly/3Je5Ck4 Turkey is at a crossroads. Even as the Turkish Government insists that it remains committed to its NATO […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Marks One-Year Anniversary of Na...

Jan 14, 2022

WASHINGTON—Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Alexei Navalny’s arrest on January 17, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statements: “In the past year, while Alexei Navalny has remained unjustly imprisoned, the Kremlin has […]

screen-reader-text
Logo 368x331
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Cautions Russia Against Dissolvi...

Dec 21, 2021

WASHINGTON—As the latest court proceedings conclude for Russian human rights group Memorial International, U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following joint statement: “The Kremlin continues to twist Russia’s so-called justice system to punish civil […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Chairman Cardin Calls for Release of Osman Kavala, W...

Dec 03, 2021

WASHINGTON—Following the recent ruling of a Turkish court that will keep philanthropist Osman Kavala jailed until his trial begins in January 2022 and the subsequent decision by the Council of Europe to begin infringement proceedings against Turkey, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) issued the following statement: “Justice has been denied, once again, for […]

screen-reader-text
Cardin3 368x331
Statements

Remembering Sergei Magnitsky

Nov 18, 2021

Madam President, 12 years ago this Tuesday, Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in Moscow at the hands of prison guards who, instead of treating him for the acute illness that his torturous, year-long detention provoked, beat him for over an hour.  He was found dead in his cell shortly thereafter.  His “crime” was exposing […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Alarmed by Attempted Liquidation...

Nov 17, 2021

WASHINGTON—Following last week’s request by Russian prosecutors to liquidate the human rights group Memorial International and the Memorial Human Rights Center, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following joint statement: “We continue to see […]

screen-reader-text