New bill would press countries harboring war criminals

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Two U.S. congressmen have introduced legislation aimed at pressuring any country harboring Nazi war criminals.

Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) proposed legislation in the House of Representatives on Wednesday that would prohibit defense sales to any country offering safe harbor to Nazis or any modern-day war criminals.

“We must let the world know that we will do everything in our power to pursue justice against the monstrous acts perpetrated by Nazi criminals and modern-day war criminals,” Israel said in a statement to JTA.

Under the War Crimes Accountability Act of 2012, it would be illegal to conduct defense sales with any country that refuses to deport, prosecute or enforce an arrest warrant against such criminals.

The bill “puts pressure on countries that harbor these criminals and ensures that they will pay a price for housing these murderers,” Israel said.

Berman said, “I hope that this bill will make countries think twice before giving refuge to war criminals.”

A spokesman from Israel’s office said the legislation is not aimed at any specific country.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, known for tracking down Nazi war criminals and working to bring them to justice, has cited what it says is a lack of political will in many countries as a major obstacle to the prosecution of former Nazis.

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