Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-4) has authored federal legislation which would provide relief to victims of genocide, war crimes, religious persecution and other atrocities, while holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes.
The Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2016 (H.R. 5961) has bipartisan support in Congress.
“Members of vulnerable religious and ethnic groups in Iraq and Syria – including Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims – are being directly targeted by ISIS in its vicious campaign to exterminate ancient religious communities,” said Smith. “How long can we continue to stand aside while innocent victims face genocide, rape, and other heinous crimes?”
He continued, “We must offer the victims of these atrocities a lifeline, and ensure that the perpetrators are punished.”
Among its key provisions, the bill would direct the federal government to close gaps in American law to allow for prosecution of perpetrators who are in the United States and to support entities that are investigating, documenting and prosecuting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq and Syria.
The bill would also call for encouragement for foreign countries to add information about suspected perpetrators of such crimes to security databases and screening processes, and it calls for support for entities that are serving genocide survivors, including faith-based agencies.
Smith scheduled a Congressional hearing on the matter Sept. 22, and witnesses will include Bill Canny, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus.[[In-content Ad]]