Guernica 37
Guernica 37

Statement of Former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp on the Proposed Elimination of the Office of Global Criminal Justice

Board Member, Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp issues statement on the planned closure of the U.S. State Department Office for Global Criminal Justice.

Originally published here on the website of the Hague Institute for Global Justice

“I have seen time and time again how having a high-level Presidential appointee has made a difference in moving the arc towards justice for the victims of mass atrocities. Without it, we would not have had Caesar coming to the US to present his photographic evidence of Syrian President Assad’s torture and murder of thousands of his own people. We would not have had bipartisan support for expansion of the war crimes rewards program that helped bring Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda to justice. We would not have had US endorsement and funding for the trial of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre in the African court that recently convicted him for crimes against humanity.

“At time when we need fair trials of the leaders of ISIL to expose their acts of genocide, rape and robbery of the citizens of their caliphate, where will come the leadership to overcome the bureaucratic resistance and to spearhead the diplomacy necessary to gain the support of other governments?

“The promise of “never again” has proven hard to keep.  If this Office of Global Criminal Justice closes, it will become even more difficult.”

Stephen Rapp was the US Ambassador-at-Large from 2009-2015, heading the Office of War Crimes Issues which was renamed (in 2012) the Office of Global Criminal Justice in the US State Department.  Before his appointment he was Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

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