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The FBI has had authority to investigate human rights issues since 1988, when Congress made genocide a crime under U.S. law. Presidential Executive Order 13107, issued in 1998, is the principal authority that directs our nation’s commitment to international human rights treaties and responsibilities in the enforcement of human rights violations. The order stipulates that all government agencies must coordinate to enforce human rights laws within their own areas of responsibility. The FBI—through the Department of Justice—supports the multi-agency Atrocities Prevention Board, recently created by Presidential Study Directive 10 to strengthen the U.S. government’s ability to foresee, prevent, and respond to genocide and mass atrocities.

While the term “human rights” has different connotations, the responsibilities of the Department of Justice—and the FBI—relate primarily to enforcement matters of five specific laws.

These five statutes typically grant the FBI jurisdiction when:

  • The perpetrator is a U.S. person,
  • The victim is a U.S. person, or
  • The perpetrator, regardless of nationality, is located in the U.S.