WASHINGTON (Apr. 19)
The congressional bill making genocide a crime in the United States is expected to be adopted by the Senate and House next week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill by a voice vote last Thursday, Yom Hashoah, after an amendment to add capital punishment as one of the penalties was defeated on a 6-6 tie vote.
Supporters of the bill feared that if the amendment had passed, some proponents of the bill would have voted against it because of their opposition to the death penalty.
The House Judiciary Committee had earlier approved the bill introduced by its chairman, Rep. Peter Rodino (D-N.J.). In the Senate the bill was introduced by Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio); and William Proxmire (D-Wis.).
The House vote is expected to come next Tuesday, under the suspension rule by which no amendments are allowed. No date has been set for the Senate vote, but it too is expected next week.
Although the Senate in 1986 ratified the United Nations convention against genocide — 37 years after it was first submitted to the Senate by President Harry Truman — both the House and Senate must adopt the implementation bill to make genocide part of the federal criminal code.
Once the president signs the bill into law, the United States would then be able to deposit the formal instrument of ratification with the U.N. secretary general.
The United Nations convention requires the implementation legislation before the ratification is considered official.
The legislation makes genocide a federal crime if committed in the United States or by a U.S. citizen anywhere. It would impose a fine of up to $1 million and/or 20 years in prison if the act results in death. Anyone convicted of “incitement to genocide” would face a fine of up to $500,000 and/or five years in prison.