Durbin Resumes Leadership of Human Rights Subcommittee

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) made the following statement today after Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) restored the Human Rights Subcommittee and named Durbin as its Chairman:


“After offering my Crime and Drugs Subcommittee gavel to Senator Specter, I asked Senator Leahy to reestablish the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee. Today that subcommittee has been reconstituted, allowing us to continue working on some of the most important human rights issues of the day.”


“Last Congress we focused on issues of genocide, child soldiers, sexual violence in conflict and human trafficking. While we had some legislative success, far more needs to be done. We will continue to work on these and other issues as we try to ensure that America remains committed to human rights both at home and abroad.”


“I’m pleased to resume the chairmanship of this important subcommittee and look forward to working closely with Senator Coburn. I thank Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Sessions for smoothing the transition and for facilitating the Judiciary Committee’s reorganization.”


Durbin chaired the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee when it was created last Congress. It remains the only Senate committee dedicated to human rights. The committee was responsible for two landmark pieces of human rights legislation last year. The first was the Genocide Accountability Act, which closed the legal loophole that prevented the U.S. Justice Department from prosecuting individuals in the United States who have participated in genocide in other countries. The second, the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, gives the federal government the authority to prosecute, deport or deny admission to an individual who recruited or used child soldiers.

The subcommittee will have jurisdiction over all human rights laws and policies and will focus on issues such as genocide, human trafficking, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, and arbitrary detention. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will serve as Ranking Member of the subcommittee. Other members will include Senators Feingold (D-WI), Cardin (D-MD), Kaufman (D-DE), Specter (D-PA), Cornyn (R-TX) and Graham (R-SC).