Congressmen propose to pass a law on sanctions against Russian war criminals
A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers is proposing legislation to enshrine the official U.S. policy of punishing the Russian government and Russian officials for human rights violations and war crimes committed in Ukraine.
The Human Rights Policy in Ukraine bill was introduced in Congress Friday morning. This was reported by The Hill.
Texas Republican Congressman Pat Fallon (TX-04), author of the bill before the House, said the discovery of a mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Izyum after Russian occupiers were driven out of there strengthens the U.S. resolve to pursue accountability for alleged war crimes and atrocities.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reflects Vladimir Putin’s utter disregard for people’s lives,” Fallon said in a statement.
“Available information indicates that Vladimir Putin’s war machine is responsible for the forced displacement of more than 1 million Ukrainian citizens and nearly 15,000 civilian casualties. It is this kind of barbarism that led my colleagues and me to pass this law. Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation deserve to be held accountable for every atrocity they have committed,” said the congressman.
The bill was sponsored in the House by Democrat Jimmy Panetta, while a related bill was introduced in the Senate by Republican Todd Young and Democrat Jackie Rosen.
“The horrific atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine, as evidenced by the recent discovery of mass graves filled with the bodies of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children, cannot go unanswered,” Rosen said in a statement.
A fact sheet provided to The Hill by Pat Fallon’s office notes that the proposed legislation is supported by the Democracy Action Fund, the policy arm of the Washington-based think tank Democracy Defense Fund.
Congressmen are calling for updated text in the law establishing a sanctions regime against Russia for its malevolent behavior, called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, so that all those responsible for atrocities committed in Ukraine would be punished.
In particular, the bill aims to identify Russian citizens involved in the forced relocation, detention and filtering of Ukrainians in the Russian-occupied territories and in Russia itself. Such acts are proposed to be called war crimes or crimes against humanity, according to the Geneva Convention.
“By expanding the authority to impose sanctions against Russia, our Human Rights Policy in Ukraine Act is a means to hold Russia accountable for its heinous actions and a deterrent to further crimes against humanity,” said Congressman Panetta.
Other provisions of the bill include directing the State Department to issue a classified report to Congress on the extent of Russia’s war crimes, including human rights abuses.