President Barack Obama signed into law legislation Tuesday that establishes a new section within the Justice Department’s Criminal Division to handle human rights crimes.
The House cleared the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009 by a 416-3 vote last week. The bill had passed the Senate last month by unanimous consent.
The legislation lays the foundation for merging the Office of Special Investigations and the Domestic Security Section into the new section. The Office of Special Investigations — which was established to probe ex-Nazi war criminals living in the United States — has jurisdiction over U.S. citizens accused of human rights crimes. The Domestic Security Section focuses on non-U.S. citizens accused of violating human rights laws and who are now in the United States.
The new section will prosecute torture, genocide, child soldiers and war crimes that are committed by any person who is in the United States.