Pursuing Accountability for Atrocities

by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Washington, DC, June 13, 2019


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing to examine accountability for mass atrocities, with a focus on the tools and mechanisms available to the United States government.

“Mass atrocities” are defined as large-scale, deliberate attacks against civilians, and include genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. After World War II the international community vowed never again to stand by in the face of genocide and mass atrocities. But since then these crimes have been committed in many countries and contexts, resulting in the suffering and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Millions more have been forced to flee, generating profound humanitarian, political, and national security consequences.

As with all human rights violations, victims of mass atrocities have the right to truth, justice, reparation and the guarantee of no repetition. Accountability is central to the concept of justice and is considered a form of reparation as well as key for ensuring non-recurrence. Yet achieving accountability for perpetrators of atrocities is difficult and relatively rare. Witnesses will discuss efforts by U.S. prosecutors and policymakers to hold perpetrators accountable, drawing on past cases, and offer recommendations to strengthen available tools and mechanisms going forward.

This hearing is part of a series that reflects on the challenges to preventing atrocities and identifies opportunities for Congress to improve U.S. government capacities to detect and respond to grave human rights crises around the world.

The hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website and will also be available for viewing on Channel 56 of the House Digital Channel service. For questions, please contact  at 202-225-3599 (for Mr. McGovern) or  at 202-225-3765 (for Mr. Smith).

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I

  • David Rybicki, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice
    Written testimony
  • Louis A. Rodi III, Acting Assistant Director, HSI National Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    Written testimony

Panel II

  • C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director, Center for Justice and Accountability
    Written testimony
  • Beth Van Schaack, Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor of Human Rights, Stanford University
    Written testimony


Submitted for the Record

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, TLHRC Co-Chair, Opening Remarks
David M. Crane, Founding Chief Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Statement for the Record


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