The FBI leverages its investigative expertise, techniques, and legal authorities to identify, locate, investigate, and prosecute perpetrators of serious human rights or humanitarian law violations, including genocide, torture, war crimes, female genital mutilation, and the recruitment or use of child soldiers. The FBI aims to hold perpetrators of mass atrocities and serious human rights violations accountable to the rule of law in a U.S. or foreign country’s judicial system.
Through our International Human Rights Unit (IHRU), we routinely coordinate with foreign counterparts on human rights investigations, provide training, and participate in numerous meetings with other agencies and non-governmental organizations.
USAID assists women who are survivors of sexual violence in the South Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a combination of psychological and economic support. Photo credit: Daniela Greco
Filing a Complaint
The FBI seeks information from diaspora members, refugees, and asylum seekers in the U.S. with knowledge of human rights violations committed abroad. Tips from witnesses and victims are key to assisting FBI efforts to find perpetrators hiding here in the U.S. Additionally, tips about serious human rights violations that have taken place abroad help the FBI identify human rights violators and work with partner agencies to keep them from coming into the U.S. in the future.
To file an international human rights complaint—including any information about perpetrators of genocide, torture, war crimes, female genital mutilation, or other human rights violations—contact your local FBI office. We have offices both in the U.S. and abroad.
- When contacting the FBI, you should be prepared to provide as much information and detail as possible.
- You can also submit complaints, tips, and information online at tips.fbi.gov.
- You can also learn about your rights and protections when speaking with the FBI.
FBI investigations vary in length. Once our investigation is complete, we forward the findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office within the local jurisdiction and to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., which decide whether or not to proceed toward prosecution and handle any prosecutions that follow.
Human Rights Outreach
Diaspora members, refugees, and asylum seekers have often faced incredible hardships to find safety here in the U.S. The FBI wants to ensure that those responsible for suffering never find safe haven in the United States.
You have rights and protections when speaking with the FBI:
- The FBI cannot threaten or harass you or your family or detain you without cause. The FBI’s purpose in asking diaspora communities about human rights abuses is only to gather information about perpetrators who may be in the U.S. You should not feel intimidated to speak to the FBI.
- You can always remain anonymous if you choose. You can anonymously submit information and tips to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov. And if you choose to speak to the FBI, you can tell the FBI you do not want any information attributed to you; the FBI will respect your privacy.
- The FBI fully understands that telling your story can be difficult. We also understand the risk to you and your family when reporting information to the FBI and will take all possible precautions. The FBI has specially trained victim specialists at all field office locations that can be present to ensure you feel comfortable and supported.
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 states that all government agencies must coordinate to enforce human rights laws within their own areas of responsibility.
The responsibilities of the Department of Justice and the FBI relate primarily to enforcement matters of six specific laws:
- Genocide (18 USC, Section 1091)
- Torture (18 USC, Section 2340A)
- War Crimes (18 USC, Section 2441)
- Recruitment/Use of Child Soldiers (18 USC, Section 2442)
- Female Genital Mutilation (18 USC, Section 116)
- Material Support to Serious Human Rights Offenses (18 USC, Section 2339A)
These five statutes typically grant the FBI jurisdiction when:
- The perpetrator is a U.S. person
- The victim is a U.S. person
- The perpetrator, regardless of nationality, is located in the U.S.
Within the U.S., our primary partners include
- Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center
- State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice
- Department of Justice, Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section
The FBI—through the Department of Justice—also supports the multi-agency Atrocities Prevention Board created by Presidential Study Directive 10 to strengthen the U.S. government’s ability to foresee, prevent, and respond to genocide and mass atrocities.
The FBI also works extensively with our domestic and international law enforcement partners, non-governmental organizations, and community leaders to locate and hold human rights violators accountable and ensure justice for victims of human rights violations.
We cooperate with INTERPOL, and we assist international courts and tribunals when there is a U.S. nexus or in accordance with U.S. laws, policies, and treaties. Examples of these international bodies include the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
02.06.2023 Justice Department and Federal Partners Recognize Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation
01.26.2023 Man Charged with Immigration Fraud for Concealing War Crime Charge in Croatia
12.05.2022 USAID Assists Women in DRC
02.18.2022 Pennsylvania Man Charged with Torture
02.04.2022 Justice Department, ICE, and the FBI Recognize International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
- U.S. Attorney General and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Met to Strengthen Joint Efforts to Hold Accountable Perpetrators of War Crimes and Other Atrocities Committed in Ukraine (Department of Justice)
- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Visits Ukraine, Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Help Identify, Apprehend, and Prosecute Individuals Involved in War Crimes and Atrocities (Department of Justice)
- 2022 Report to Congress Pursuant to Section 5 of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 (State Department)
- From Nuremberg to Ukraine: Accountability for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (Committee on the Judiciary)