On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced that individuals who have participated in war crimes or other serious human rights abuses would not be allowed entry into the United States.
The proclamation reads:
The United States' enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law requires that its Government be able to ensure that the United States does not become a safe haven for serious violators of human rights and humanitarian law and
those who engage in other related abuses. Universal respect for human rights and humanitarian law and the prevention of atrocities internationally promotes U.S. values and fundamental U.S. interests in helping secure peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and prevent humanitarian crises around the globe. I therefore have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of certain persons who have engaged in the acts outlined in section 1 of this proclamation.
The proclamation goes onto list violators of human rights as anyone who has "planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in" widespread violence against a group of people.
The proclamation specifically lists sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, meaning that people found to have violated the human rights of LGBT people - as, for example, is the case with those involved in Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill - could be barred from entering the country.
The Washington Blade has more:
Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said the order gives the Obama administration "an important tool to use in dissuading extremist actions that are prejudicial to basic human rights, and in encouraging the development of inclusive laws and societies."
"The Council praises this move, which could in principle be used to justify the exclusion of hate-promoting politicians like Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati, who introduced a 'kill the gays bill' in a previous legislative session in Uganda and may do so again," Bromley said. "That bill, of course, would have carried dire consequences for LGBT individuals in Uganda."
The decision has elicited positive reactions - after all, who doesn't support cracking down on human rights violators? But it's interesting and hypocritical that Obama has made this proclamation while continuing to lead and encourage military strikes in Libya. The United States' involvement in the Libya conflict has not been authorized by the U.S. Congress, although under the War Powers Act, the White House is required to receive congressional approval on any military force after 60 days of the first military action. The air strikes began in March, over four months ago.
The Obama administration has since claimed that its actions in Libya do not fall under the jurisdiction of the War Powers Act. Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, among others, have said that Obama's persistence in Libya could be considered an "impeachable offense." Estimates put the number of deaths in Libya as a result of the military strikes at around 8,000 people, including around 3,500 civilians.
Even without Libya, the president has been accused of committing war crimes himself, with Ralph Nader specifically denouncing Obama's policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2009, of course, Obama authorized for 30,000 additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan, and just a few weeks ago, he curried favor with "liberals" by announcing plans to pull out the same number of troops that he sent in: 30,000. With all of these hawk-like decisions, Obama, the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, cannot be considered an anti-war president.
This latest proclamation, it seems, is mostly a public relations move to heighten talk of the United States' false commitment to peace.