Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Human rights' new DOJ home

Brand-new in D.C.:
The Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, established within the U.S. Department of Justice yesterday.
HRSP, as it's to be known, is intended to combat human rights violations and to endeavor to bring war criminals to account. Its approval by Congress last week culminated plans 1st announced by U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer during testimony last October 6 before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law.
This new section within the Criminal Division was formed through the merger of 2 existing DOJ units:
1st, the Domestic Security Section, which since 2002 has concentrated on international human rights violations, offenses brought under the under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act and related statutes, and and complex immigration and border crimes. The section worked alongside federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida in a case about which we've posted: the 1st-ever conviction, secured in 2008 against Boston-born Chuckie Taylor (below) (image credit), son of Liberia's ex-President, under the United States' extraterritorial torture statute.
2d, the Office of Special Investigations, formed in 1979 to investigate and prosecute Nazi-era crimes. In 2004 OSI's mandate was expanded to citizenship revocation proceedings against perpetrators of genocide, official torture, and extrajudicial killing in other contexts. Among its notable cases is that of Ukraine-born John Demjanjuk (bottom) (photo credit), now on trial in Munich after having been stripped of U.S. citizenship and sent to Germany.
Leading HRSP is Teresa L. McHenry. Most recently chief of the Domestic Security Section, McHenry, also has served as head of DOJ's Alien Smuggling Task Force, as a trial attorney in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, and as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, Eli M. Rosenbaum becomes the Director of Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy. Since 1995, he's led the Office of Special Investigations; before that, he was a corporate litigation associate with Simpson Thacher in Manhattan and general counsel of the World Jewish Congress.
Looking forward to good works from this new section.

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