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Public Statements

Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROYCE. I thank the gentlelady.

And I do think it's important, as we move forward here, to expand the State Department's rewards program. We have found a technique that works; and if we can deploy this in order to bring Joseph Kony to the bar of justice for the mass killings that he's committed with the Lord's Resistance Army, or if we can use it to bring to the bar of justice some of the international crime figures that would be turned in under this bill, then it could be very, very beneficial.

The bill has already passed the House. It was included as a provision in the State Department authorization bill that the House Foreign Affairs Committee moved earlier this year. I think it's regrettable that the Senate chose not to act on the House's comprehensive State Department authorization bill; but with today's action, this bill can now go to the President's desk for signature where it promises to have an immediate impact.

The House companion bill that I introduced, H.R. 4077, has enjoyed very strong bipartisan support, and I want to thank Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. I want to thank Ranking Member Howard Berman and others for the support they've given to this measure.

As has been explained, this rewards program, to date, has had some very, very successful cases here; but it's been targeted mostly on those involved in drug trafficking, occasionally on terrorists.

Earlier this year, our subcommittee held a hearing where the State Department testified that one captured target, one narcoterrorist told DEA agents that he could no longer trust anyone in his organization after a reward was offered on his head.

He said, I felt like a hunted man.

And so he was turned in. Well, that was the plan--to make him feel like a hunted man, to make him feel like he could not trust anyone in his organization.

This bill would expand this program to additionally target those transnational organized criminals, those wanted for the most serious human rights abuses. Today, unfortunately, those involved in that line of work are diversifying. They're looking to sell anything to anybody. It could be arms. It could be intellectual property. It's even people. The overlap between the networks employed by criminals and employed by terrorists is growing. So this legislation helps us keep pace. And, very importantly, the legislation also allows the rewards program to target those wanted for genocide, to target those wanted for war crimes, for crimes against humanity--again, the world's worst human rights abusers.

The target of the new war crimes authority would be killers like Joseph Kony and the top commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army. This group has terrorized across Central Africa for over two decades with unspeakable crimes committed against children such as amputations committed against children, taking child soldiers, taking sex slaves. In accordance with U.S. policy, a small team of U.S. troops are currently in the field helping local forces hunt this killer. Our U.S. troops believe that a rewards program aimed at Kony could help generate intelligence and bolster their efforts. They are asking for this. They think this can make a difference on the ground. Let's answer their call and send this bill to the President for his signature.

I thank my colleagues for their support.

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