SENATORS ENSIGN AND CORZINE LEAD CAMPAIGN TO SECURE ADOPTION OF LEGISLATION
WASHINGTON–DC–Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ) were joined by sixteen of their Senate colleagues in introducing Senate legislation today marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the Genocide Convention–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The legislation is similar to a resolution introduced last year in the Senate that garnered the support of over 30 Senators. It parallels legislation–H.Res.193–introduced this April in the House of Representatives. The resolution specifically cites the Armenian Genocide as an example of past genocide. On the introduction of the resolution–Sen. Ensign explained that–"This resolution marking the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the Genocide Convention represents a renewal of America’s commitment to preventing future genocides. The Holocaust–the Armenian Genocide–the Cambodian and Rwandan tragedies are all powerful reasons why we must remain vigilant."
Sen. Corzine concurred–noting that–"Acknowledging past transgressions–particularly the horrific crime of genocide–is an important step in preventing future crimes against humanity and putting an end to the unremitting cycle of violence of the past century. Denying or ignoring the horrors of the past will only lead to future tragedies."
Joining Senators Ensign and Corzine as original cosponsors are: George Allen (R-VA)–Evan Bayh (D-IN)–Barbara Boxer (D-CA)–Joe Biden (D-DE)–Kent Conrad (D-ND)–Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)–Richard Durbin (D-IL)–John Edwards (D-NC)–James Jeffords (I-VT)–Edward Kennedy (D-MA)–Herb Kohl (D-WI)–Mary Landrieu (D-LA)–Joseph Lieberman (CT)–Jack Reed (D-RI)–Rick Santorum (R-PA)–and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD).
The Senate resolution marks the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of Genocide Convention–and calls on the United States to learn from the lessons of past genocides – including the Holocaust and the Armenian–Cambodian and Rwandan genocides – to prevent future atrocities. It will likely be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee–chaired by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.
Its House companion bill–H.Res.193–was introduced on April 10th by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA)–Adam Schiff (D-CA)–and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). Despite State Department and Turkish Government opposition–that resolution was unanimously adopted by the House Judiciary Committee and has over 110 Congressional co-sponsors. "We welcome the introduction of this legislation and encourage all Americans to call on their Senators to cosponsor this measure," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "As Armenian Americans – as descendants of those who survived the fires of the Armenian Genocide – we have a moral obligation to do all that we can to strengthen our country’s resolve to ensure that the horrors of genocide are never again visited upon any people."
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide–first approved in 1948–confirms that genocide is a crime under international law and defines genocide as actions committed with intent to destroy a national–ethnical–racial or religious group. The Convention calls on signatory states to enact domestic legislation to provide effective penalties for persons who are guilty of genocide.
The United States–under President Harry Truman–was the first nation to sign the Convention–although the US Senate did not ratify the treaty until 1986. After the 1986 ratification–the Congress adopted implementing language–known as the Proxmire Act–in 1988 and President Reagan signed this legislation into law on November 4th–1988. This law (18 U.S.C. 1091) formally criminalized genocide under the US law. November of 2003 will mark the 15th anniversary of the US becoming a full party to his landmark international treaty.
The Resolution specifically notes that despite the international community’s consensus against genocide–"denial of past instances of genocide continues and many thousands of innocent people continue to be victims of genocide."