Suspected Nazi War Criminals Find Security in Legal Limbo


Many immigrants have come to the United States for opportunity and freedom. Alleged Nazi war criminals Vladas Zajanckauskas, Theodor Szehinskyj, Jakiw Palij, and John Kalymon may have said the same. From Michigan to New York, these four elderly men are living normal day to day lives, although their United States citizenship has been removed and they have been ordered deported.

First, it is important to understand that the United States cannot put these suspected men on criminal trial. The crimes being alleged did not occur in America, hence jurisdictional power is absent. What the U.S. does do is hold legal proceedings, through a specific Justice Department agency. Proceedings conclude whether there is enough evidence against the accused to prove involvement in Nazi war crimes, and reason for deportation. The countries in which these crimes were committed have the ability to prosecute.

The problem is that European countries are not accepting the alleged Nazi war criminals back through their state borders. For example, Romania, “passed a law in 2002 barring the entry of war crimes suspects.” (My Ways News) In response to this point, Eli Rosenbaum, head of the Justice Department agency in charge of these investigations, has expressed his frustration with the inability to act on the findings his agency procures.

Zajanckauskas, Szehinskyj, Palij, Kalymon, and dozens of others in their situation, have received public benefits and Social Security long until their appeals have exhausted. Director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Paul Shapiro, stated, “That they have been able to live out their lives enjoying the freedoms of this country, after depriving others of freedom and life itself, is an affront to the memory of those who perished.”

Do you believe justice has been served? Isn’t genocide a peremptory norm under international law? Should the International Criminal Court have jurisdiction over this issue or would State Sovereignty be threatened?

Source: Associated Press:

Picture: NY Times

One comment

  1. For the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have jurisdiction over this issue is a very complex matter. Not to say that it is impossible, but it will be difficult. I do however believe that if the United States is unable to prosecute due to jurisdictional restriction and other countries are refusing to prosecute by not letting these war criminals back into their country, the ICC is the only other option. Maybe international law can make an exception for the U.S. courts to prosecute. Maybe international law can force these other countries to take these war criminals and prosecute them. Otherwise, prosecution by the ICC seems appropriate. But, I do agree that something needs to be done, because the U.S. is seen as harboring Nazi war criminals.

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