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tv   U.S. House of Representatives House Debate on War Crimes in Ukraine Bill  CSPAN  April 11, 2022 12:00am-12:34am EDT

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gentleman is recognized. mr. meeks: mr. speaker, i rise
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today in support of h.r. 7276, the ukraine invasion war crimes deterrence and accountability act, introduced by my good friend and the ranking member of the house foreign affairs committee, mr. mccaul. i want to thank mr. mccaul for working collectively across the aisle as we do on many bills, but on this important bill for your leadership on it. it's very timely and very important. mr. speaker, each day we see a growing body of horrifying evidence of atrocities that russian troops have wreaked on ukrainian citizens. mr. mccaul and i traveled to poland and saw with our own eyes the refugees fleeing ukraine because of putin's war. not knowing whether they would see their husbands or fathers or uuncles ever again.
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not knowing what their tomorrow would be. this week the images, the videos, anti-firsthand accounts -- and the firsthand accounts from bucha were nothing short of chilling. and it pains as it did seeing the refugees cross the border in poland, it pains my heart to know that this is likely just the tip of the iceberg of what ukrainians have suffered. in attempting to justify his war of choice on ukraine, putin's relentless dehumanization of ukrainians has laid the foundation for atrocities so vial -- vile it churns one's stomach. we have seen this before, mr. speaker. it's the same dehumanization that has led to every genocide before.
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. i fear what we ukraine right now and it will only get worse. nothing we do on this floor today will erace the generational trauma that putin's forces have inflicted on ukrainians. bureau we can and we must ensure that the united states of america is doing everything in its power to collect evidence that can be used to prosecute russian war crimes and other atrocities. and hopefully that will deter further systemic human rights abuses in this conflict. h.r. 7276 would require the administration to detail efforts to collect, analyze and preserve evidence of war crimes. and to describe the process through which a domestic,
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foreign or international court or tribeunl could request and obtain information related to war crimes or other atrocities from the united states. every day, every day of this illegal and unprovoked war further unites the global community against russia's aggression in ukraine. the images we continue to see day in and day out are shocking to the conscience and also a call to action. to the leaders of the nations who have yet to condemn this barbaric war of choice, i ask you, please just watch these videos of civilians being bombed. listen, as we did, both in poland and those that visited us here in the house of
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representatives, listen to the survivors who have witnessed their neighbors and their friends shot in the streets or in their homes. some bound with their hands behind their backs. history, the camera of history is rolling, mr. speaker. and it will remember those countries that remain silent. russia's aggression on ukraine must stop. and we must all unequivocally condemn the atrocities as being carried out by putin and his russian invading forces. and those who are responsible, mr. chairman, mr. speaker, those who are responsible must be
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brought to justice. no matter how long it takes or how hard it may be, the ukraine invasion war crimes deterrence and accountability act will help collect the necessary evidence so that we can do just that. hold those individuals accountable for the atrocities that they have committed. i ask all of my colleagues to join and support this crucial legislation. and i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. mccaul: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself as much time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the
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gentleman is recognized. mr. mccaul: i want to thank my dear friend, chairman meeks, for working with me on this important legislation. this is an historic time. it's an historic bill. the largest invasion in europe since world war ii. war crimes in europe the likes of which we haven't seen since my father's generation and my father's war. mr. speaker, the world is watching and history will judge us all by how we act, by our actions. as the chairman said, the tape is filming. the reel is filming this. we are seeing these horrific images coming out of ukraine as
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i speak. and sadly there will be many more. we've just hit the surface. corpses littering the streets of bucha. their hands tied behind their backs. bullets in their heads. some decapitated. a pregnant woman covered in blood as these monsters bombed a ma alternativity hospital -- a maternity hospital, for god's sake. and she gets wheeled out holding onto her womb, her baby. sadly and tragically both she and her baby did not survive that day. mothers raped in front of their children. young girls raped in front of their families. girls. the bodies of families half
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buried together in shallow graves with hands still sticking out of the ground. my god. what is happening in this world? i never imagined or thought i would see this in my lifetime. this is of centuries ago. not today. the bombing of apartments and public buildings, providing refuge to children and the elderly. including a theater in mariupol that had the word children written outside so large in russian that the satellites could see it. we could see it from satellites. what did the russian does? they bombed it -- russians do? they bombed it. they bombed it knowing there were children inside.
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and today, just today, most disturbing, we have reporting out of ukraine that russia is bringing in mobile crematoriums. mobile crematoriums to deal with the carnage. because there's so many bodies in the streets. bring in mobile crematoriums in an effort to hide the evidence of their crimes. these are putin's war crimes. and he will be held responsible. he and his cronies and the russian troops who have carried this out must be held accountable. sadly, these are not the first war crimes committed by putin's troops. as the people of chechnya, georgia and syria can attest. we cannot wait for the next atrocity before we act.
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we must do what we can now to deter russian leaders, commanders and troops in the field from committing further war crimes. that is why we introduced this legislation. it will ensure the united states helps the people of ukraine gather, analyze and maintain the evidence of these war crimes. it will also put russian troops, i think troops is probably not the right word, these russian monsters and their leaders on notice that the world is watching. the world is watching them right now. and we're taking names. we're taking the names of these war criminals and we're taking the photographs and we're taking the surveillance and we're taking the satellite imagery to document this injustice, this crime against humanity.
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and we will seek justice. i'm very proud of the bipartisan efforts that our committees made. but on this topic, i just have to -- my god. i can't believe we're here even talking about this. i can't believe this is actually happening. in this world, in this century. these horrific atrocities in bucha have made one thing crystal clear. no country, no country can remain neutral in the face of this evil. the entire world needs to rally against mr. putin and these war crimes. and passing this bill is a step forward to getting justice done. i was a federal prosecutor for a good part of my life and i've dealt with a lot of victims.
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and i've seen a lot of really awful things that man can do to mankind. i have to say, mr. speaker, this is probably in fact absolutely -- probably, in fact absolutely the worst thing i've seen in my lifetime. and the world is watching and history will judge us all, and all nations, will judge us all by what we do here and now. with that, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. meeks: yes. mr. speaker, i now proudly yield two minutes to the gentlelady from texas, the honorable sheila jackson lee. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman is recognized. ms. jackson lee: i thank the speaker very much. let me thank the leadership of
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our chairman and the working relationship with the ranking member. i was in lithuania as the russians were coming in. spent a couple of days there with the hopes and dreams of many people that in actuality they would not -- there would not be an invasion of russia into ukraine. even though we were being briefed on the 30,000 to 40,000 troops in belarus. even on that day, when we spoke to ukraine parliamentarians who indicated that they were leaving the meeting we were in and taking a 17-hour trip back to ukraine as their son was standing up to join the ukrainian movement. the ukrainian military. little did we expect, as some people said, just a couple of days, that we would be at a point where we will not call it world war iii, but we'll call it the most brutal, vicious and
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murderous effort in europe and the world almost since world war iii. i cannot fathom the bodies found in a pit. i cannot understand moms and babies dying in the street. i cannot understand or accept the numbers of civilians targeted, their bodies strung throughout the various cities. the movement to the east, the destruction of odessa and the unwillingness of vladimir putin to even think of being serious at the peace table. it is important to make pronounced war crimes have been committed, that he must be at the hague. i believe europe should be more pronounced in its annunciation and i frankly believe that there is a heavier penalty that he must pay.
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i don't believe he should sit at another table of western civilization. but most importantly, i rise to support this legislation and believe america is right to insist on mr. putin being tried for war crimes. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. mccaul: mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield three minutes to the gentleman from arkansas, mr. hill. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. hill: i thank the speaker and i certainly thank my friend, the ranking member. i rise in strong support of h.r. 7276, the ukraine invasion war crimes deterrence and accountability act. and i'm a proud co-sponsor of this important legislation and thank chairman meeks and the committee in working with ranking member mccaul on this critical bipartisan bill. last weekend the world saw in bucha with a the -- what the ukrainian people have been telling us since the start of this invasion. that the russians are indiscriminately torturing and
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executing ukrainian men, women and children. it's important in these periods of conflict that the united states contribute to the collecting, analyzing and preserving the critical evidence of war crimes and other atrocities. for two decades putin has gone unchecked and never paid a diplomatic or even economic price for his 22 years of mania. he's never faced, until he met the ukrainians, true armed resistance. he destroyed historic aleppo when his co-conspirator and partner, assad. and he waltzed into crimea, mr. speaker, in 2014 without firing a shot. the line has been finally drawn in ukraine. this house on a bipartisan basis has worked to document assad's mass murder in syria. as a result of that work and the work of the united nations mechanism, we've had a recent conviction in germany of the
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syrian intelligence official for crimes against humanity. the u.n. recently approved an independent inquiry into ukraine. that's precisely the same step of a decade ago in syria. enacting this legislation will ensure that the united states contributes to this effort. i encourage all might have colleagues to support this important bill. i thank mr. meeks and mr. mccaul and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from mr. meeks: madam speaker, i don't have any further requests for time at this -- for time at this moment, so i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. mccaul: madam speaker, i'm pleased to yield four minutes to the gentleman from new jersey, mr. smith. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new jersey is recognized for four minutes. mr. smith: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i thank my good friend for yielding. i thank chairman meeks, both of you, for your extraordinary leadership on this important bill that's before us today. i want to thank you for your
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eloquent remarks a moment ago, summarizing the absolute atrocity that's being committed by vladimir putin and his military and lukashenko, the president of belarus. you know, you have described in vivid detail just how horrific this is. i think my good friend from texas said a moment ago, my father fought in world war ii as well, in the pacific. the crimes by imperial japan and the nazis, it's like what vladimir putin is doing. it has to stop and stop yesterday. i chaired a hearing at the tom latos human rights commission. the day before i introduced a resolution calling for accountability for vladimir putin, for his crimes against ukrainian people and his aggression against ukraine.
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the witnesses couldn't have been more clear that delay is denial, that we need to act now. i was very much involved with the court in the former yugoslavia. very involved in the court in sierra leone. and the rwanda court. tried to get a court for syria but failed. and pushed hard for with a resolution on this floor and the house did pass it. but the key here is timeliness. don't wait. you know, the i.c.c., while it may do some good here and they do have an investigation that they have instituted, the i.c.c. has been notoriously slow. they have had less than 10 convictions over 20 years. now, if that venue works, great. but my concern, and i think the concerns shared by many, particularly in the n.g.o. community, that there needs to be another venue stood up quickly that could make the difference. at the march hearing, david
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crane, the founding prosecutor for the u.n. special court for sierra leone talked about an international tribunal created by the united nations general assembly. you know, we're all thinking, when it gets to the security council, the security council will have two vetoes at least. it will be russia and it will be china. not so in the general assembly and they can stand up a court and they can do it tomorrow that would indict vladimir putin on the next day. there's certainly enough evidence -- keep building, of course. there's enough evidence right now and that hopefully will tell everyone around him, the time will come when you will be on the dock as well. i remember meeting with those in the balkans. milosevic thought he was untouchable, impunity because of that and he killed so many
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because there was no accountability. well, he went to the hague as part of the ad hoc tribunal and he died while the proceedings were under way but he would have been held to account. so i urge my colleagues to support this. you know, we already had one vote in the general assembly. 141-198 voted. the number of people abstained. you only need a simple majority. and i did ask our number two at the state department, gregory meeks hearing earlier today to take back to the administration the idea of looking at all the venues but let's get a court constituted immediately if the i.c.c. wants to step in at some point, fine. but indict putin. indict him. and you'll see some people running like rats on the ship part of his regime knowing they will be held accountable and in jail for the rest of their life. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york.
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mr. meeks: reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york reserves. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. mccaul: i'm prepared to close if the gentleman from new york has no further speakers. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is prepared to close. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. mccaul: thank you, madam speaker. we rise today not as democrats, republicans, but as americans. as a united congress on behalf of the american people condemning these atrocities. you know, madam speaker, there's a group called the wagner group that's entering ukraine right now. they are the worst of the worst. they're mercenaries. they're cold-blooded killers. mr. putin has sent them to africa to kill people in mali and libya, and they have been on the donbas previously. they have a saying, these wagner thugs, these monsters, that our
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business is killing and business is good. this is sick. they rape women and girls and they kill for a living and, yes, now they're entering ukraine. sadly, madam speaker, i'm not sure bucha is the last we're going to see of this. and when the dust clears from mariupol', god knows -- mariupol', god knows what we're going to find there. when they talk about kremtory -- crematoriums to hide the bodies, so many bodies to be burned, this has to stop. we're standing together united as americans condemning this. and as a former federal prosecutor, yes, to indict
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mr. putin for his crimes against humanity. mr. putin thought his legacy after this fiasco was going to be reclaiming the glory of the empire. he will be known as great as the czars or maybe stalin. you know, maybe he is like stalin. his legacy is not going to be reclaiming the empire. his legacy is going to be that of a war criminal and that will impact his psyche. that will impact all those around him, including his oligarchs that no one is safe here, that you will be indicted internationally, and that you will be brought to justice. for without justice in the face of this, of these crimes against humanity, what good are we? so this is an historic moment.
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i want to thank, as always, on this committee for working with me to stand up against evil because that's exactly what this is. and with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas yields back. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. meeks: i yield myself as much time as i may consume to close. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. meeks: madam speaker, what we are witnessing, russian troops in ukraine represents some of the worst of humankind. right now, the world is watching horrifying war crimes taking place. the world is watching the extent to which putin is throughouting
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international norms and -- flouting international norms in pursuit of its brutality. and the world is also watching what we as a nation are going to do about it. the department of state has officially concluded that russian forces have committed war crimes in ukraine. which was made vividly clear by the horrifying images emerging over this past weekend from bucha. investigations into these war crimes are already beginning and must continue. and i'm saying today, as chair of the house foreign affairs committee, working along with my friend and partner, the ranking member, mike mccaul, we will work tirelessly to make sure that justice is delivered and that the administration works
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stren strenuously in concert with partners and allies to this end. because meaningful justice for these crimes helps prevent such atrocities in the future. this legislation requires the administration to detail efforts to preserve evidence and hold perpetrators accountable for the atrocity they have committed and to detail the means for domestic, hybrid, or international courts and tribunals to request such information. this legislation, the ukrainian invasion war crimes deterrence and accountability act, will ensure victims and perpetrators alike know that the united
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states of america and the world, we've got to get those who abstain in the u.n. they see the same thing. we need to have them stand and have a voice. the world is watching, and the world will hold putin and the russian armed forces and those that are in the dumas and those that keep pushing this war that is accountability -- that's caused by one man, vladimir putin, these abhorrent war crimes, which continues to go on. it's a war of choice that putin has decided to place on ukraine,
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and that is why, madam speaker, i am so proud to partner with mike mccaul and bringing h.r. 7276 to the floor today so that my children, my grandchildren, my great-great-grandchildren will know how i stood at this time in history and how the united states congress stood at in time in history. and with that,
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