U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-led Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) represented the U.S. Nov. 9 and 10 at The Hague, Netherlands, for a global meeting to discuss ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute human rights violators and war criminals around the world.
HRVWCC Unit Chief Mark Shaffer, along with members of the U.S. Department of Justice Human Rights Special Prosecutions Section, attended the first in-person meeting since Fall 2019 of the European Union’s Agency for Criminal Justice (EUROJUST) Genocide Network. Several other HRVWCC members, to including the leadership from the Human Rights Violators Law Division, attended the meeting virtually.
“International collaboration creates the opportunity for HRVWCC law enforcement personnel to discuss, strategize, and share investigative and litigation techniques and resources on various atrocities, potential perpetrators, and the availability of evidence and witnesses to be used in prosecutions,” said Shaffer.
Shaffer has been a regular participant and the lead U.S. investigator in the EUROJUST Genocide Network’s bi-annual meetings, which bring together law enforcement representatives from the European Union (EU), United States, United Kingdom (UK) and Canada.
HRVWCC team members also represent U.S. law enforcement at EUROPOL’s Analysis Project on Core International Crimes. Both networks are dedicated to supporting national authorities’ efforts to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
HSI’s HRVWCC has prioritized building partnerships with human rights violators and war crimes investigative units from within the EU and with the “Five Eyes” alliance of the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, according to Shaffer.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 468 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and/or physically removed from the United States 1,070 known or suspected human rights violators. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 174 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 170 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 77,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 340 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423) or its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips. Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.