Senate Judiciary Committee Releases Testimony of Justice Department Official on Crimes Against Humanity in Ukraine

In his prepared remarks, Director Rosenbaum praises Durbin and Grassley’s bipartisan Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee released prepared testimony from Eli Rosenbaum, Director of Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy and Counselor for War Crimes Accountability at the U.S. Department of Justice, during today’s hearing entitled “From Nuremberg to Ukraine: Accountability for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.”

Key quotes as prepared:

“Given the shocking crimes that continue to be perpetrated by Russia’s forces in the course of its unprovoked war against Ukraine, this hearing could not be held at a more appropriate, urgent or, frankly, terrifying time. Every single day that passes without prosecutors around the world having all the tools that they need to pursue justice in the aftermath of those horrific events potentially enables war criminals and human rights violators to escape justice.”

“We have seen maternity hospitals and schools destroyed by bombs. We have seen images of mass graves. And we have heard reports of torture and other atrocities. The issue of accountability therefore could not be more pressing.”

“Accountability is a critical pillar of international peace and stability. It brings a measure of justice to victims, ensures that perpetrators answer for their actions, potentially saves lives by deterring others from becoming perpetrators, and, at its best, serves to rebuild trust in national and international institutions, and in the rule of law, breaks the cycle of violence and helps to build lasting peace.” 

“[Under current law,] if a war criminal from the current conflict in Ukraine were, for example, to come to the United States today and were subsequently identified, our war crimes statute would not apply, thus potentially allowing that war criminal and others to walk the streets of our country without fear of prosecution… We are therefore pleased that the Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act would close this gap.”

“Our Declaration of Independence proclaims to the world that all ‘are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ and that among these are ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ These are the very rights that Russia is trying through violent means to deny to the more than 40 million people of Ukraine… horrors that are being perpetrated there by the Russian Government evoke so many memories of monstrous crimes committed in Europe and elsewhere in decades and centuries past. History is, tragically, repeating itself today in Ukraine, as it suffers its second large-scale invasion within living memory.”

“Congressional action to close the most serious and persistent statutory gaps in jurisdiction over war crimes and other atrocity crimes would strike a powerful blow in service of the goal of achieving accountability for offenses that, at the great Nuremberg trial, chief American prosecutor Robert H. Jackson famously termed ‘wrongs’ that are ‘so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated.’”

Full text of Director Eli Rosenbaum’s prepared remarks are available here 

Full hearing on Ukraine and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity can be watched live here; on Twitter here; and on Facebook here.