Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced the Geospatial Support for Atrocity Accountability Act. This legislation will secure intelligence to identify, prevent, and respond to atrocities and preserve evidence related to war crimes, both past and present.
“This important bill will leverage the United States’ intelligence capabilities to send a strong message to perpetrators of war crimes that we will expose their crimes and hold them accountable. The horrors of war are devastating to civilian populations. The United States has the geospatial intelligence technology to identify and prevent war crimes from happening now and hold war criminals accountable for past atrocities. Now, we must provide the State Department with the intelligence products to respond to atrocities and account for missing persons across the world. Thank you Congresswoman Spanberger for joining me in this bipartisan effort to deliver accountability for war crimes and missing persons,” Stefanik said.
“When holding perpetrators accountable for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, satellite imagery can be one of the strongest forms of documentation. However, the current process for providing this geospatial intelligence and using it to achieve justice is in desperate need of reform. To help gather evidence of these atrocities, we need to make sure the State Department has the tools it needs from America’s Intelligence Community,” Spanberger said. “This bipartisan bill would improve coordination and information-sharing between the State Department and our intelligence agencies. I want to thank Congresswoman Stefanik for her partnership on this issue and for demonstrating the bipartisan support behind America’s efforts to prevent, identify, and document war crimes.”
The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 (S. 1158) provided a renewed focus on monitoring and providing early warning to national leadership on countries with growing indicators and warnings for mass atrocities and genocide activity. However, it lacks the specificity of leveraging geospatial intelligence to deter bad actors from executing forced disappearances or pre-genocide activities.
This bipartisan bill would direct the Secretary of State to secure available intelligence to identify, prevent, and respond to atrocities by ensuring the Atrocity Warning Task Force acquires commercial geospatial imagery and analysis from the National Geospatial Agency (NGA). These images will provide the United States with the necessary tools to hold genocide and forced disappearance perpetrators accountable. It would also coordinate information-sharing between the State Department at U.S. intelligence agencies and provide evidence of war crimes and atrocity crime scenes to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and appropriate tribunals.
Capitalizing on geospatial intelligence and satellite imagery for genocide prevention would specifically help:
- Locate and identify the missing,
- Provide evidence for war crimes, and
- Bring transnational justice for perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Stefanik and Spanberger were joined by Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Mike Johnson (R-LA), Maria Salazar (R-FL), Joe Wilson R-SC), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Doug Lamborn (R-CO).
Read full text of the bill here.