At a small ceremony Wednesday, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division celebrated the creation of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of the Justice Department, the same day as it announced the first case emerging from the new unit.
The Justice Department announced in March that it would merge the Office of Special Investigations and the Domestic Security Section into the new section.
At the ceremony, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer thanked the section’s staff for its work and congratulated them on the merged unit’s first successful case. Gilberto Jordan, a former Guatemalan special forces soldier, was accused of masking his role in a 1982 massacre. Jordan was arrested in Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday and charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and HRSP with unlawful procurement of naturalized U.S. citizenship. He allegedly admitted that he was in the Guatemalan military, was present during the 1982 Dos Erres massacre, where Guatemalan special forces killed more than 160 people. According to the complaint, Jordan said he participated in the killings and that he murdered a baby by throwing it into the village well.
Breuer said the successful merger of the two sections is such a short period of time was a testament to the work of the division and thanked staffers for their patience. Breuer specifically thanked Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein for his work in guiding the logistics of the merger.
The section’s top two prosecutors — Teresa L. McHenry, the head of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, and Eli M. Rosenbaum, the Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy Director — both spoke at the ceremony. Joe Zogby, a staffer for Senate Judiciary human rights subcommittee chairman Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), was also on hand representing the senator. He said that Durbin believed the new section would allow the Justice Department to better handle the human rights challenges of the 21st century.
This post has been updated.