[JURIST] US President George W. Bush Friday signed into law [press release] a bill that will allow the federal government to prosecute individuals in the US suspected of genocide abroad. The Genocide Accountability Act of 2007 [text, PDF] modifies Section 1091, Title 18 USC [text], which had limited genocide prosecution to US nationals or to offenses by non-nationals committed inside the US. The new law will add aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, stateless persons whose habitual residence is in the US, and alleged offenders "brought into, or found in" the US, even if the alleged genocidal conduct occurred outside the country.
The bill was introduced after human rights groups urged Congress to consider the legislation. Testifying [prepared statement] before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, American University law professor and current Special Counsel to the Open Society Institute (OSI) [advocacy website], Diane Orentlicher, cited the example of Akron Ohio resident Ratko Maslenjak, once a member of an infamous Serb military unit connected to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive]. Instead of facing trial in the US for genocide, he was merely convicted of lying about his service in the Srebrenica unit [Cleveland Plain-Dealer report] when he applied for his green card. The bill passed the Senate unanimously in March and the House of Representatives earlier this month. OSI has more.