S. 1472: Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009

S. 1472

Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009

Sen. Richard J. Durbin

December 15, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

S . 1472 is being considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage.  The legislation was introduced by Sen. Durbin (D-IL) on July 20, 2009.

Bill Summary

S. 1472 would consolidate the enforcement of human rights offenses by eliminating the Office of Special Investigations within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).  The bill directs the Attorney General to establish a section within the Criminal Division of DOJ to enforce laws against suspected participants in serious human rights offenses.  This section of the DOJ would also be required to consult with the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State when taking legal action against such individuals.  The bill defines "serious human rights offenses" to include genocide, torture, war crimes, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.

The bill also amends the federal criminal code to:

  • Punish a conspiracy to commit genocide in the same manner as completed act of genocide;
  • Eliminate the limitation period for prosecuting crimes of genocide; and
  • Include genocide and recruitment of child soldiers as predicates for the crime of providing material support to terrorists.

S. 1472 amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to broaden the coverage of current laws against genocide.  Those prosecuted and convicted under the bill could be subject to criminal fines, paid to the federal government.


There are two offices in the Criminal Division that currently investigate and prosecute suspected human rights abusers, the Office of Special Investigations and the Domestic Security Section.


CBO estimates that implementing S. 1472 would have no significant impact on the federal budget.  Enacting the bill could affect direct spending and revenues, but CBO estimates that any such effects also would not be significant.

Furthermore, criminal fines are recorded as revenues, deposited in the Crime Victims Fund, and later spent.  CBO expects that any additional revenues and direct spending would not be significant because of the small number of cases likely to be affected.