30 December 2012

Africa: The State Department's Rewards Program Could Be an Essential Tool Against Transnational Crime, International Human Rights Abusers, Ros-Lehtinen Says

press release

Washington, DC — (WASHINGTON) - U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke today on the House floor in favor of S. 2318, the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012. This bill extends the State Department's authority to offer rewards that lead to arrests and convictions for international narcotics trafficking, acts of terrorism, and war crimes to also include transnational organized crime and human rights abusers.

Remarks by Ros-Lehtinen:

"I strongly support S. 2318, the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012. This bipartisan bill is Senator Kerry's Senate companion to H.R. 4077, the House bill introduced two months prior by my good friend from California, Mr. Royce. Back in July, the House adopted substantially identical text, as section 207 of H.R. 6018, the State Department authorization bill, which is still awaiting Senate action.

"Since the 1980s, the State Department has had authority to offer rewards leading to arrests and convictions for international narcotics trafficking, acts of terrorism, and war crimes. These reward programs have proven to be effective tools for disrupting and dismantling terrorist cells and drug cartels around the world, enjoying both high-profile and quiet successes in locating many dangerous individuals including: Ramzi Yousef, one of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center attack; Saddam Hussein's sons; and narco-trafficking commanders of the FARC in Colombia.

"The bill before us today would extend the use of these important tools for combating transnational organized crime and to address grave human rights abuses such as crimes against humanity and genocide. This bill is a critical tool in our ongoing efforts to locate Joseph Kony, the murderous head of the predatory Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), in Central Africa.

"The Senate inserted the important protections for U.S. sovereignty and American citizens that were part of the House-passed text. It is also important to note that this bill makes clear that any reward should come from a previously existing fund at the Department of State. In sum, S. 2318 is a responsible, bipartisan bill that will significantly enhance our ability to combat transnational organized crime and grave human rights abuses."

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