Obama takes formal aim at atrocities

April 23, 2012 at 12:50 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama announced Monday he issued an executive order aimed at stopping repressive regimes from using new technology for atrocities.

Obama said he determined that Iran and Syria used Internet and mobile phone technology to commit serious human rights abuses against their people.

"The governments of Iran and Syria are endeavoring to rapidly upgrade their technological ability to conduct such activities," he said.

Obama, during an address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington, said Internet and mobile phone technologies should be used as a tool for social empowerment, not repression.

His executive order authorized new sanctions against Iranian and Syrian entities accused of its using the Internet to track down their domestic political opponents.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Monday that an Atrocity Prevention Board was created to coincide with Obama's visit to the museum. The board would meet monthly to discuss policies aimed at the prevention of and response to human rights abuses and suspected war crimes.

Rice said the board would lay "the foundation for a stronger, better-organized U.S. and international response to early warnings of mass atrocities and genocide, presenting policymakers with better prevention options before the costs of action rise."

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