Controversy over US Dismantling of War Crimes Unit

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Saturday, March 9, 2019
Linda Friedman Ramirez

On February 15, 2019, the Center for Investigative Reporting shared news that the United States Justice Department is currently in the process of dismantling the FBI’s highly specialized International Human Rights Unit (IHRU). The IHRU’s mission has been “to mitigate the most significant threats posed by international human rights violators through effective intelligence collection and targeted enforcement action in collaboration with both domestic and international accountability efforts.” Human rights experts have raised alarm over the fact that such a move will dilute, if not eliminate, the FBI’s ability to pursue complex international human rights investigations. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigations Press Office responded to this author’s request for additional information, “International Human Rights (IHR) violations fall under the FBI’s Civil Rights Program, as such, a decision was made to merge the IHR Unit with the Civil Rights Unit to create the Civil Rights and International Human Rights Unit to more effectively utilize these FBI resources. This re-organization in no way reflects a reduced commitment by the FBI to work the IHR threat or diminish established relationships with government and non-government partners. This shift will increase the number of personnel available to oversee the IHR threat as the FBI continues its important work on these violations under the newly created unit.”