US President Barack Obama issued a directive Thursday barring war criminals and human rights violators [press release] from entering the country. Under the new proclamation, which took effect immediately, the Secretary of State determines which criminals or violators will be allowed into the US. Additionally, Obama commissioned the Atrocities Prevention Board, a panel assisting in deterring genocidal violence, which will begin work within six months. Obama explained the purposes and goals of the proclamation:
By institutionalizing the coordination of atrocity prevention, we can ensure: (1) that our national security apparatus recognizes and is responsive to early indicators of potential atrocities; (2) that departments and agencies develop and implement comprehensive atrocity prevention and response strategies in a manner that allows "red flags" and dissent to be raised to decision makers; (3) that we increase the capacity and develop doctrine for our foreign service, armed services, development professionals, and other actors to engage in the full spectrum of smart prevention activities; and (4) that we are optimally positioned to work with our allies in order to ensure that the burdens of atrocity prevention and response are appropriately shared.The president also called for administration officials to present within 100 days a comprehensive, National Security Advisor-led interagency evaluation of the measures available for the prevention of mass atrocities.
Barring war criminals and rights violators may signal the Obama administration's commitment to international justice. In July, the administration issued [JURIST report] an executive order [text] imposing economic sanctions to combat international organized crime [JURIST news archive] operations, freezing their US assets, preventing the transfer of property to the organizations and criminalizing providing aid to the organizations. Earlier in July, Obama brought [JURIST report] Somali terror suspect Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame to the US to face a civil trial in New York. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] lauded the decision but questioned the long detainment overseas. Conversely, Obama was urged to stop deportations [JURIST report] to Haiti on humanitarian grounds by 3,000 Americans who signed a petition in June. And last year, US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp [official profile] said Thursday that no US president is likely [JURIST report] to present the Rome Statute [text] of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to the US Senate for ratification in the "foreseeable future."