By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, United States – In an effort to curb future human rights violations, President Obama signed a proclamation that will bar human rights violators from entering the United States. Further, Obama will establish an Atrocities Prevention Board as an early warning system for future human rights violations.
The Atrocities Prevention Board will be comprised of officials from the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, and other agencies, according to The New York Times. The Board will work with U.S. allies in order to prevent atrocities as soon as there is potential for abuse. According to a fact sheet released by the White House, the new tactics aim to strengthen the United States’ ability to prevent mass atrocities.
In addition to establishing the Atrocities Prevention Board, President Obama issued a proclamation that “explicitly bars entry into the United States of persons who organize or participate in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of human rights,” according to the fact sheet distributed by the White House. While the United States already prevents some human rights violators from entering the country, this new tactic will fill in some of the gaps.
The major reason President Obama wanted to create this board, according to The New York Times, is to avoid a situation where the president only has two options: either intervene militarily or do nothing at all.
This proclamation comes sixty-six years after the Holocaust, and seventeen years after the Rwandan genocide. President Obama stated, “[T]he United States still lacks a comprehensive policy framework and a corresponding interagency mechanism for preventing a responding to mass atrocities and genocide,” as reported by United Press International (“UPI”).
The new initiative comes in the middle of a worsening situation in Syria, where the government has taken a violent stand against pro-democracy protestors, according to The New York Times. Additionally, there are worries about ethnic cleansing in Sudan. As of now, the U.S. is imposing economic sanctions on Syria, but many are calling for harsher punishment.
Although the new initiative may not change how and when Washington addresses issues of genocide, Tom Malinowski, the Washington director at Human Rights Watch, says that “[the new] directives should help to overcome the bureaucratic resistance and indifference that often delays steps that might prevent such catastrophes in the first place,” as reported by ThirdAge.com.
The White House announced that with the new directive, “we will be able to more effectively shame those who are organizing such conduct,” according to UPI. The United States needs to stand up for humanitarian law and avoid becoming a safe haven for human rights abusers.
The Atrocities Prevention Board will be set up within 120 days from Thursday, August 4.
For more information, please visit:
ThirdAge.com — Human Rights Watch Welcomes Atrocities Initiative — 8 Aug. 2011
UPI.com — Obama Creates Atrocities Prevention Board — 4 Aug. 2011
The New York Times — Obama Takes Steps to Help Avert Atrocities — 3 Aug. 2011