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For Immediate Release

President Obama Signs Expansion of Rewards for Justice Program

Legislation will facilitate apprehension of some of world’s most notorious human rights violators.

Cambridge, MA - 01/15/2013

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) applauds President Obama for signing key legislation today that expands the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, which authorizes payment to people who help capture those responsible for the most heinous international crimes. 

Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) led the US Congress in passing the bill, which expands the program that pays people for information leading to the arrest of those wanted by international tribunals on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

PHR Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin was present at today’s signing ceremony for the bill, which marks a significant step forward in ending impunity for serious crimes. “This program sends a strong signal that those who commit serious human rights violations will be required to answer for their crimes,” said Sirkin.

For decades, PHR has called for perpetrators of mass atrocities to be brought to justice, and PHR experts have participated in trials of high-level defendants before international tribunals. Today, PHR continues to advocate for the arrest and prosecution of individuals wanted by the International Criminal Court, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, and Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda. PHR has been particularly active in calling for the arrest of Ntaganda, who leads a militia in eastern Congo that uses rape as a weapon of war.

“The expansion of the Rewards for Justice program is an essential step in the effort to bring perpetrators of mass atrocities to justice,” said PHR Washington Director and Chief Policy Officer Hans Hogrefe. “A financial reward will surely help prompt those with information about the whereabouts of fugitives from justice to come forward.”

President Obama Signs Expansion of Rewards for Justice Program
(From left) Mort Halperin, Open Society Foundations; John Bradshaw, Enough; Susannah Sirkin, Physicians for Human Rights; Michael Abramowitz, Center for the Prevention of Genocide USHMM; President Barack Obama; Ben Keesey, Invisible Children; Michael Poffenberger, Resolve; Tom Andrews, United Against Genocide; Elisa Massimino, Human Rights First; and Peter Rundlet, Humanity United.


Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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