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FBI’s War Crimes Unit on the Chopping Block

Just Security: “A special unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation that handles war crimes may be shut down imminently, according to officials familiar with the administration’s decision-making process. The FBI’s International Human Rights Unit takes the lead on investigating individuals within the United States who have been accused of committing international crimes, including war crimes, torture, genocide, female genital mutilation, and the recruitment of child soldiers. It also investigates international crimes committed against or by U.S. citizens abroad and enforces immigration statutes that can be invoked against abusers who cannot be prosecuted for their underlying crimes for whatever reason. The rationale for suddenly scaling back the United States’ commitment to investigating and prosecuting war criminals is unclear…It is difficult to conceive of the value in disbanding a small unit of nine FBI agents and analysts who have a track record of success, who are accustomed to working in close coordination with other federal and foreign law enforcement counterparts, and who are singularly focused on preventing the United States from becoming a safe haven for war criminals and bringing to justice those who may commit atrocities against Americans overseas. Congress repeatedly stresses (see p. 669) the importance of this work and concern about the number of human rights violators in the United States (p. 73). Members of Congress and others within the U.S. government who support this work should immediately raise their concerns before this ace team is disbanded and their expertise is dissipated.”

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