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Human Rights Violators
12/11/2017

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Liberian national pleads guilty to federal charges

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A Liberian national pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony Dec. 7, following an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).

Isaac Kannah, 51, of Philadelphia, faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As a result of the plea agreement, Kannah agreed that:  (1) a felony of obstruction of proceedings occurred before a department or agency of the U.S.; (2) he knew of its commission; (3) he failed to notify relevant authorities; and (4) he did an affirmative act to conceal the crime.  Kannah, who has been in the country since the 1990s, also agreed to the re-opening of his immigration proceedings and to leave the U.S. following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

In May 2011, the Executive Office of Immigration Review conducted removal proceedings against George Boley, the former head of the Liberian Peace Council (LPC), a rebel group which fought in the early 1990s during the Liberian Civil War and committed numerous human rights violations, including torture, rape, and using and recruiting child soldiers. During his testimony, Boley provided false and misleading testimony about the LPC and its activities in an effort to impede and obstruct immigration proceedings. Despite this testimony, an immigration judge ordered Boley removed and on March 29, 2012, Boley became the first individual to be removed from the United States for using and recruiting child soldiers, in addition to being found inadmissible for his involvement in extra-judicial killings. 

During Boley’s removal proceedings, Kannah appeared as a witness, providing testimony under oath to support Boley’s claims, including affirming that the LPC was not a warring faction in the Liberian Civil War.  On December 7, 2017, according to a superseding information, Kannah pleaded guilty to concealing the fact that Boley had testified falsely about the LPC and its activities during the Liberian Civil War.  Kannah also agreed to terminate his immigration status and depart the United States.  His sentencing date is scheduled for May 9, 2018.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York and Trial Attorney Brenda Sue Thornton from the Department of Justice's National Security Division, handled the case.  

The investigation in this case was supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers, the HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders. Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 380 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the United States. Currently, the HRVWCC is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,400 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped 213 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/12/2017