Saturday, October 6, 2007

Fighting hate at home and abroad

The fight for terror victims' rights continues on...

New Jersey Jewish News

The U.S. Senate passed two important measures this week, one addressing the consequences of hate in this country, the other focusing on hate directed at Americans abroad.

The Senate overcame objections largely from conservative lawmakers to approve legislation to expand federal hate crimes laws. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act will permit the Justice Department to assist local hate crime prosecutions and, where appropriate, to investigate and prosecute cases in which bias violence occurs because of the victim's race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. "Sexual orientation" was a sticking point for opponents, but the majority stood up for equal rights and common decency when it voted 60-39 to end a filibuster against the bill.

The Bush administration has threatened to veto the legislation, and Jewish groups are vowing a fight. "We will work hard to convince the President that the time has come for this important legislation," the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement.

In a separate measure, the Senate passed legislation giving victims the right to sue state sponsors of terrorism and allowing them to seek compensation through the seizure of hidden commercial assets belonging to terrorist states. The bill has strong New Jersey ties: Its sponsor was Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and the legislation is based on the 1996 Flatow Amendment, named in honor of Alisa Flatow, the young woman from West Orange killed by a Palestinian bomber in 1995.

In hailing the legislation's passage, Lautenberg quoted Lynn Smith Derbyshire, a Virginian whose brother was among the 241 victims of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. "The passage of this bill," she said, "will bring justice by holding the criminals accountable for their crime. And I believe it will mitigate future terrorism. This bill is a huge statement of support for victims of terrorism, and a powerful way to fight terrorism without the use of military force."

Like the hate crimes measure, the compensation act is included in the Department of Defense Authorization bill and must now be reconciled with the House and signed by the president.

1 comment:

Terror Victims said...

Terrorism does not make a difference among people. All groups and tribes should be united in the fighting terrorism and uprooted this bad omen phenomenon by cooperation of the government.