WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed into law a measure expanding a cash rewards program for informants designed to thwart terror attacks to also target organised crime and human rights abuses.
He said the new law would help bring individuals like the Lord's Resistance Army chief Joseph Kony and commanders of the M23 and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda group to justice.
The legislation also allows the US government to offer rewards for information that leads to the arrest of transnational criminals involved in money laundering and trafficking in persons.
“This powerful new tool can be used to help bring to justice perpetrators of the worst crimes known to human kind,” Obama said in a statement.
“We have made unmistakably clear that the United States is committed to seeing war criminals and other perpetrators of atrocities held accountable for their crimes, and today's legislation can help us achieve that goal.”
The State Department bills the Rewards for Justice program as a key tool in preventing terror attacks and hunting down terror suspects.
Since the program's debut in 1984, the US government has paid out over $100 million to more than 70 people who provided actionable intelligence that disrupted terror attacks or led to the discovery of perpetrators of attacks.
The program led investigators to Uday and Qusay Hussein, sons of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who died in a firefight with US forces in 2003.
Convicted 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef was also captured in Pakistan as a result of information provided by an informant under the program.
Yousef is now serving a life sentence at a “Supermax” top security prison in Colorado.