US Rewards for Justice

16 January 2013 | ResolutionPossible

Yesterday President Obama signed into law S.2318, the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012, an amendment to Rewards for Justice. This will enable the US to offer a financial reward for information on the location of individuals wanted for “atrocity-related crimes and… transnational organised crime”, including those involved in drug and human trafficking as well as war crimes.

A 2003 poster offering rewards through the Rewards for Justice program. Photo: RNW

President Obama states that:

“This powerful new tool can be used to help bring to justice perpetrators of the worst crimes known to human kind. This includes individuals such as Joseph Kony and other leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), as well as certain commanders of M23 and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).”

American groups including Human Rights First, Invisible Children and Resolve have welcomed this bill in relation to their current campaigns, especially concerning the apprehension of Joseph Kony and other top LRA commanders wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This development raises questions about the international justice system, and especially the role of the US.

What is the potential impact of the enhanced Rewards for Justice program? What impact has there been from the existing scheme?

What do people from the region think about this development?

Does the focus on particular individuals risk detracting from the root causes of conflicts?

Since the US is not part of the ICC, what authority does it have to action arrest warrants issued by the court?

Share your thoughts below or email us.


5 Responses to “US Rewards for Justice”
  1. innocent says:

    I have been following the great work you guys are doing over the UK and am way impressed with the fact that you have been able to go over the field yourselves (the great lake region of Africa), to me it was a great sign of commitment and determination based on the fact that you know what you are doing. like it’s commonly said that Jerusalem was not built in a day and so is your struggle, slowly but efficiently with every minor details on what person would wanna hear. I respect the United states government and the fact that they have put countless effort into ensuring justice world wide although I still feel like something is not so clear because if I can take you back to December 27, 2012 11:12 AM, when the CBS (an American based television) broadcast live in their 60minutes program, about Morten Storm (former Danish spy who converted into Muslim during his sentence time). storm became so close to one of the CIA’s most wanted criminal, Anwar Al Awlaki, a Yemen based terrorist who preached jihad against the U.S. in English over the Internet and was said to have been involved in many terror attacks. storm, in a December 30th live interview, confessed having been neglected by the CIA, his great role in the killing of the criminal, a claim that neither the US nor the Danish government made mention a thing on even though the CIA had promised him a cash pay in return for his help since he was a very close friend to Awlaki. Storm was quoted saying “No. There is no doubt [my efforts led to his death],” he tells Logan. “It was a lot of joyment (sp), I say, because it’s good he died anyway. It is good.” and now my concern is on how the states government will effect their say if they can not clean the old mess. I read through their summary and copied section three below,
    Section 3 –
    Amends the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to include in the program’s purpose the prevention of acts of transnational organized crime and violations of international humanitarian law.
    Authorizes the Secretary of State to issue rewards for information leading to:
    (1) the arrest or conviction in any country of any individual for participating in, primarily outside the United States, transnational organized crime;
    (2) the arrest or conviction in any country of any individual conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate in transnational organized crime; or
    (3) the arrest or conviction in any country, or the transfer to or conviction by an international criminal tribunal, of any foreign national accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.
    Directs the Secretary to notify Congress at least 15 days before announcing a reward for a foreign national accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.
    but my concern is maily in 3,1 which talks about the arrest or conviction in any country, I wonder whether this is an authority from the United Nation or just the states government cos I am quite sure they made the no agreement with the local poor nations where these most wanted criminals are hiding d that makes me ask myself whether the states government really care about trespassing into other states boundary without a prior agreement with the local government? I really feel confused about the way this gonna work but for now I bet I should hold it here.

  2. ResolutionPossible says:

    Some useful points raised during a brief twitter exchange with Paul Ronan of Resolve:

    Resolution:Possible @ResPoss: Hi @weareresolved, we’re interested in the implications of #rewardsforjustice; would love your thoughts #LRA #Kony

    Paul Ronan @resolvereports: @ResPoss @whitehouse 1 possible implication: #LRA officers not indicted by #ICC defecting and giving #AU forces info on location of @Kony

    Resolution:Possible @ResPoss: @resolvereports @whitehouse Thanks Paul! Are there plans to communicate to these #LRA officers? How do you see this playing out?

    @ResPoss @whitehouse No one has direct comms with #LRA, so USG must invest funds in FM radio messages and leaflet drops in LRA areas of ops

    Resolution:Possible @ResPoss: @resolvereports do you think the changes in amnesty law in Uganda could affect an #LRA officer’s decision to take up #rewardsforjustice?

    Paul Ronan @resolvereports: @ResPoss Lack of amnesty likely deterrent to #LRA officers considering #RFJ. Imperative that #uganda gov works w/ civil society to reinstate

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