Trump signs into law genocide prevention act named for Elie Wiesel

Legislation in honor of Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor defines prevention of mass murder as a matter of national security

Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel arrives for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill,  Washington, DC March 2, 2015. (Win McNamee/Getty Images via JTA)
Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel arrives for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC March 2, 2015. (Win McNamee/Getty Images via JTA)

US President Donald Trump on Monday signed into law bipartisan legislation named for the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, the White House announced in a statement.

The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act aims to improve the US response to emerging or potential genocides and passed final votes last month in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The act ensures that the official policy of the United States deems the prevention of genocide and other crimes a matter of national security interest.

It establishes an interagency Mass Atrocities Task Force and encourages the director of national intelligence to include information on atrocities in the annual crime report to Congress. It also enables training for US Foreign Service officers on detecting early signs of atrocities.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, January 2, 2019, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The legislation was introduced to Congress in June 2017 by New York Democrat Joe Crowley and Missouri Republican Ann Wagner, and in the Senate by Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin and Indiana Republican Todd Young, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The final bill passed in the House after previously passing in the chamber on July 17 in a vote of 406-5 with 117 cosponsors. The Senate approved the legislation, with 34 cosponsors.

“America’s strength around the world is rooted in our values. It is in our national interest to ensure that the United States utilizes the full arsenal of diplomatic, economic, and legal tools to take meaningful action before atrocities occur,” Cardin said in a statement issued by his office. “Tragically, these atrocities are happening today; we simply cannot wait to act.”

Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and died in 2016. He and his family were among an estimated 14,000 Jews who were deported to the Auschwitz death camp from a town in northwest Romania in May 1944. His mother and younger sister died there.

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