Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On Supporting International Efforts to Apprehend and Prosecute War Criminals

Mr. President, I want to speak very briefly about an amendment that was adopted unanimously by the Appropriations Committee two weeks ago, during markup of the fiscal year 2018 Department of State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill.

The amendment, which I offered, was identical to one that was adopted by the Committee last year and the year before that. 

It would permit the United States to provide technical assistance, training, assistance for victims, protection of witnesses, and law enforcement support related to investigations, apprehensions, and prosecutions of the world’s most notorious war criminals.

It is important to note what my amendment does not do.  For example, while I support the International Criminal Court which has proven to be a non-political, adjudicative body comprised of reputable, experienced jurists who have carried out their responsibilities impartially and professionally, my amendment does not authorize a regular cash contribution to the International Criminal Court.

Also, my amendment exempts American service members, members of NATO and major non-NATO allies, such as Israel. 

As the Committee report indicates, the amendment is focused on the worst of the worst – Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army; Sudan’s President Bashir; Syria’s President Assad; and other high profile criminals. 

The United States has some of the world’s most experienced criminal investigators and prosecutors.  We have unique capabilities.  Even though we do not contribute funds to the ICC – and my amendment does not change that – we have strongly supported the Court’s efforts in the past.  For example, when it prosecuted Serbian President Milosevic.  When it tried and convicted Charles Taylor, the war criminal in Sierra Leone.  And we will support the ICC if Joseph Kony and others like him are apprehended.

I think we all agree that we should do what we can to help bring the world’s worst war criminals to justice.  My amendment would do that, and I hope other Senators will lend their voices in support of its inclusion in the final conference agreement.

I ask unanimous consent that a copy of my amendment be printed in the Record.

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Sec. 7047.

            (b) None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for a United States contribution to the International Criminal Court:  Provided, That notwithstanding section 705(b) of the Admiral James W. Nance and Meg Donovan Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal years 2000 and 2001 (division A of Public Law 106-113) and consistent with section 2015 of the American Service-Members Protection Act, 2002, as amended, funds may be made available for technical assistance, training, assistance for victims, protection of witnesses, and law enforcement support related to international investigations, apprehensions, prosecutions, and adjudications of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes: Provided further, That the previous proviso shall not apply to American service members and other United States citizens or nationals, or to nationals of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or major non-NATO allies initially designated pursuant to section 517(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

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