Focuses on International Criminals and World’s Worst Human Rights Abusers

Washington, D.C. – Today, the President signed into law legislation originally authored by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which expands the State Department’s rewards program to target transnational organized criminals and the world’s worst human rights abusers.  Rep. Royce issued the following statement upon President Obama signing the legislation into law:

“As criminal networks and terrorists morph into something new – and killers like Joseph Kony of the LRA terrorize the innocent – this law will give us additional tools to target the world’s worst.

“Today, transnational criminals are diversifying – looking to sell anything to anybody.  The overlap between criminal networks and terrorists is growing.  This law will help us to keep pace. 

“One target of this new war crimes authority would be killers like Joseph Kony and the top commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  This group has terrorized central Africa for over two decades with unspeakable crimes.  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 a rewards program aimed at Kony could help generate intelligence and bolster their efforts.  I look forward to the vigorous implementation of this new law.”

After introducing H.R. 4077 on February 17, 2012, Royce’s legislation garnered significant bipartisan support, and was included in comprehensive State Department legislation (H.R.6018), which passed the House in July. Royce convened a hearing on the legislation in March. The Senate companion legislation (S. 2318), introduced in April by Senators Kerry and Isakson, passed the Senate on December 20th and was taken up by the House earlier this month.

Background: Since the inception of the State Department’s rewards program in 1984, the U.S. Government has paid rewards to over 70 people who provided actionable intelligence that, according to the State Department, prevented international terrorist attacks or helped convict individuals involved in terrorist acts.  As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, Royce led Congressional efforts to see that international arms dealer Viktor Bout, arrested in Thailand in 2008, was extradited to the United States to stand trial.  Reportedly, the Narcotics Rewards program helped arrest Bout.  In 2010, Royce – a former chair of the Africa Subcommittee – was an original sponsor of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. The successful legislation made it the policy of the United States to "apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield."