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May 6, 2016New York, NY, United StatesHuman Rights Violators

ICE deports former Kosovo Liberation Army soldier accused of persecuting ethnic Serbs during the Kosovo conflict

NEW YORK – A Kosovo national accused of participating in the Kosovo Liberation Army's (KLA) persecution of suspected Serbian collaborators was removed Monday from the United States by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

In interviews with immigration officials, Halil Dacaj made incriminating statements revealing that he interrogated, beat, and delivered prisoners to KLA command for further punishment.  On Aug. 11, 2015, ERO officers arrested Dacaj pursuant to Operation No Safe Haven.  

In Nov. 21, 1999, he was admitted into the United States as a temporary visitor for pleasure. However, he entered by presenting a fraudulent passport and visa. On Dec. 9, 2003, an immigration judge ordered Dacaj removed from the United States to Kosovo.

Dacaj's removal was carried out by ICE as a “high profile removal” – a special designation given to foreign fugitives, national security threats, human rights violators, and other special interest removals.

“Human rights violators who flee from the atrocities committed in their home countries will not find refuge here,” said ERO New York Field Office Director Christopher Shanahan. “ICE uses its unique immigration enforcement authorities to track down those who assisted in persecution and remove those perpetrators from the United States.”

Dacaj departed on Sunday from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York under escort by deportation officers from ERO New York. Upon his arrival in Kosovo, ICE turned Dacaj over to authorities in Pristina International Airport.

ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. These individuals may use fraudulent identities to enter the country and attempt to blend into U.S. communities.

Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 360 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 780 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.

Currently, ICE has more than 125 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 97 different countries. Over the last four years, ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center has issued more than 70,100 lookouts for individuals from 111 countries and stopped 193 human rights violators or war crime suspects from entering the United States.

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 ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also email or complete ICE's online tip form.