Accountability for Perpetrators
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) for a joint virtual hearing on how the international community can hold perpetrators of mass atrocities, both state and non-state actors, accountable for international crimes, including genocide, committed against religious communities.
Despite the 1948 Genocide Convention and declarations of “never again,” perpetrators around the world continue to commit genocide, including against religious communities, with impunity. Holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes is imperative for deterrence and is a key element in providing justice to the victims of these crimes along with reparations for devastated communities, restoring the dignity of survivors, and supporting broader transitional justice processes that deal with the legacy of conflict. Despite this importance, in the face of ongoing mass atrocities, or even in their aftermath, many obstacles impede the ability of victims to access justice. While States have the primary obligation under international law to criminally prosecute those responsible for mass atrocity crimes, international and hybrid courts can help close the accountability gap.
Several religious communities targeted by genocide in recent years continue to raise their voices for justice. In Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant committed genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities, spurring calls for international trials to end the cycle of violence and impunity. Responding to the plight of the Rohingya, the Gambia initiated proceedings at the International Court of Justice against Burma for its alleged genocide against that community. Civil society launched the Uyghur Tribunal as a response to the inability to date to bring the government of the People’s Republic of China before a formal international court. Ongoing efforts to document and collect evidence of grave human rights violations at the international and local levels also support victims to ensure future criminal investigations and prosecutions.
Witnesses will discuss how the U.S. government and the international community can identify and support opportunities to hold perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable and ensure justice for victims.
Submitted for the record:
This hearing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the public, and the media. Members of the media should register online and can email email@example.com for any questions or to schedule an interview. The video recording of the hearing will be posted on both the USCIRF website and the TLHRC website. For any additional questions, please contact Nina Ullom at Nullom@uscirf.gov or (202) 322-0232.