Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

Commission Witnesses Call for Stronger Action Against Milosevic

WASHINGTON — “Regrettably, in spite of all that has happened in Bosnia and now Kosovo, the Clinton Administration still seems to cling to the idea that Milosevic is someone with whom we can cut a deal,” said Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) in his opening remarks at the Helsinki Commission hearing “Holding War Criminals Accountable.”

The hearing was also attended by (in order of arrival) Commissioners Rep. James C. Greenwood (R-PA), Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ).

When asked whether Milosevic is a war criminal or not, witness Paul Williams pointed out, “In 1992, then-Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger called Milosevic a war criminal based on the information he had then.” Mr. Smith responded, “Well, we can’t have it both ways. On April 5, when Secretary of State Albright was asked the same question, she stated ‘Technically he is not a war criminal because the War Crimes Tribunal, that has a legal process, has not indicted him.’ So is he or not?”

The witnesses suggested several steps that should be taken to assist in the conviction of war criminals. Nina Bang-Jensen recommended:

1) Communicate to the White House that Members believe that risks inherent in arresting indicted war crimes suspects in Bosnia are outweighed by the risks of inaction;

2) Support efforts to provide additional funds for Tribunal investigations in Kosovo and additional resources to the Human Rights and Democracy Fund to document human rights abuses;

3) Support re-authorization of the Lautenberg Amendment in the Foreign Operations Bill, which directs that U.S. economic reconstruction assistance not go to indicted war criminals or to projects in municipalities that are failing to cooperate with the Tribunal;

4) and, publicly oppose any short-sighted peace plan that might undermine the Tribunal’s authority by offering Milosevic de facto immunity from prosecution by allowing him to be transported to a friendly third country that will not honor any arrest warrant the Tribunal may issue.

Ms. Bang-Jensen concluded with a statement: “After all the promises we and the international community have made to the people of the former Yugoslavia about bringing those responsible for their misery to justice at the Tribunal, a “peace” that would allow the architect of four wars and a serial ethnic cleanser to slip away as if there were no Tribunal at all will not be a lasting peace.”

Mr. Cardin assured his colleagues, “There is bipartisan support for ensuring that the United States assistance to the War Crimes Tribunal is one of its highest priorities.”

Mr. Smith also announced that he will soon introduce a resolution calling for the indictment of Milosevic, a close but stronger version of the resolution that passed both the House and the Senate in the last Congress.

Media contact

Filter Topics Open Close
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission House Leadership Marks Fourth An...

Jun 06, 2024

WASHINGTON—Today, Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) and Ranking Member Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) marked the fourth annual Counter-Kleptocracy Month. The U.S. Helsinki Commission has marked Counter-Kleptocracy month since June 2021 when the Commission helped to launch the Congressional Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy (Counter-Kleptocracy Caucus). The Caucus is also chaired by Reps. Wilson and […]


Helsinki Commission Advances Human Rights, Demands f...

Oct 19, 2023

By Shannon Simrell, Senior Policy Advisor Between October 2-13, 11 Helsinki Commission staff joined approximately 1,400 representatives of OSCE participating States (pS) and civil society representatives in Warsaw, Poland in an annual review of the human rights records of OSCE States. U.S. leadership highlighted demands for accountability from Russia and Belarus for their human rights […]


Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner

Sep 20, 2023

Stream here: HEARING: Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner – YouTube Vladimir Kara-Murza, a father, husband, and a freedom fighter, has been in detention for over five hundred days and is currently being transferred to a prison in Siberia. As he is being moved, his family has lost all contact with him and are faced with worry […]


Rescuing Ukrainian Children and Women from Russia...

Jul 26, 2023

Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, from wartime atrocities and from other threats such as human trafficking. Ukraine’s children are suffering serious injury […]

Press Releases


Jul 19, 2023

Wednesday, July 26, 2023 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rayburn House Building room 2200 Streaming here: Russia’s war has exposed the critical need for U.S. and international action to both save Ukraine’s children and to put in place measures for the future that will protect children, as well as vulnerable refugees around the world, […]


Russia’s Alpine Assets: Money Laundering and S...

Jul 18, 2023

Switzerland has for years been a primary destination for Russian money laundering and, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a weak link in Western sanctions enforcement. This Helsinki Commission hearing examined Switzerland’s poor track record of rooting out dirty Russian money and examined potential paths forward for U.S. policymakers in persuading Switzerland to uphold its […]


Supporting A Democratic and Secure Moldova

Jul 12, 2023

In recent years, Moldova has made notable steps to improve its democratic institutions and combat corruption. President Maia Sandu and her Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) have spearheaded wide-ranging reforms and backed a number of high-profile anti-corruption cases. Moldova has also made strides toward greater integration with the European Union (EU). In 2022, the […]

Press Releases

Hearing: Supporting a Democratic and Secure Moldova

Jul 06, 2023

Wednesday, July 12, 2023 2:00 pm Cannon House Office Building, Room 210 Live stream: In recent years, Moldova has enacted numerous reforms under current Moldovan President Maia Sandu to strengthen its democratic institutions, combat corruption and kleptocracy, and integrate with the European Union. In 2022, the European Union granted Moldova “Candidate” status in its […]

Press Releases

Chairman Wilson and RM Cohen Mark Third Annual Count...

Jun 16, 2023

WASHINGTON—Today, Helsinki Commission Chairman Joe Wilson and Ranking Member Steve Cohen, Co-Chairmen of the Counter-Kleptocracy Caucus, marked the third annual Counter-Kleptocracy Month. “Foreign corruption and kleptocracy is the main reason that we face a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine today. It is the way that the Islamic Republic of Iran sustains itself. It is the […]


Protecting Ukrainian Refugees from Human Trafficking

Apr 07, 2023

More than 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s massive invasion on February 24, in the largest migration of people in Europe since the Second World War. Given Ukraine’s exit restrictions on males from 18-60, the vast majority of those are women and children. Most cross the Ukrainian border without resources or a place […]

Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Leadership Statement on Georgian...

Mar 06, 2023

WASHINGTON—In response to news that the Georgian parliament is considering Russian-style foreign agent legislation, which would have a chilling effect on Georgia’s vibrant civil society, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-2), Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (MS) issued the following joint statement: “Since regaining independence, the Georgian people have clearly and […]

Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Chair and Co-Chair: Statement on...

Feb 20, 2023

WASHINGTON—Following reports of the sharp deterioration of Azerbaijani dissident Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2) and Co-Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) issued the following joint statement: “We are absolutely appalled at the continued unwarranted detention and mistreatment of Azerbaijani civil activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, who has been imprisoned on trumped up charges and […]