The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel as law enforcement heroes Oct. 13 for their success in fighting against war criminals. The ADL SHIELD award specifically recognized the work of personnel from the ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC), ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., field office, and the Department of Justice in the case of Almaz Nezirovic, 56, a former guard at the Rabic Prison Camp in the Derventa Municipality of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War.
Nezirovic was wanted by Bosnian authorities for committing war crimes between April and July 1992, against unarmed Serb civilian prisoners by beating, humiliating and traumatizing them, causing severe personal injuries. The Center and HSI special agents initiated an investigation after locating Nezirovic in Roanoke, Virginia, based on information developed during HRVWCC research and supplementary evidence received from the Bosnian prosecutor’s office in Sarajevo. In pursuit of the case, HSI and HRVWCC personnel conducted numerous witness interviews in Bosnia, which substantiated the charges. These efforts led to Nezirovic’s extradition to Bosnia in July 2015.
The SHIELD Award honors those who have protected our nation and its values and recognizes law enforcement professionals for their service, honor, integrity, excellence, leadership and dedication. The 2015 SHIELD Awards were presented at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to: Historian Michael C. MacQueen, of the ICE HRVWCC, Special Agent Michael Tarantino of HSI Washington, D.C., and Assistant Chief Counsel Sarah Harrold of the ICE Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, as well as to Timothy Heaphy, former U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright of the same office.
The ADL began the annual SHIELD Awards program in 2010 to recognize law enforcement for major achievements in the fight against hate crimes as well as domestic and international terrorism, and for protecting civil rights.
“The Awards are a way for us to honor and express our appreciation to those who have protected our nation and its values and guarded our lives and freedom,” said Elise Jarvis, ADL’s Associate Director for Law Enforcement Outreach and Communal Security.
The HRVWCC investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture, the use of child soldiers and extrajudicial killings.
Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested 296 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 740 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Currently, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations has more than 140 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,800 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 97 different countries.
More information can be found on the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center web page. Additionally, members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free HSI Tip Line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also email HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov or complete the HSI online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips.