U.S. President Barack Obama has issued an executive order that for the first time will allow U.S. authorities to impose sanctions on foreign entities who help authoritarian governments use modern technologies to commit human rights abuses.
Obama made the announcement Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, specifically naming the governments of Iran and Syria as major violators.
The order freezes U.S. assets linked to people who provide technological help - like satellite, computer and phone monitoring -- to oppressive governments. Obama said modern technology should be "used to empower people, not oppress them."
The president said "national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people."
The new order is part of what he called a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to atrocities. It includes creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board, which was to hold its first meeting Monday.
Obama also defended his administration's efforts to prevent genocide across the world -- specifically mentioning Libya, Sudan and the ongoing manhunt for African warlord Joseph Kony.
He said the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan "must have the courage to negotiate" because their people "deserve peace."
Before the speech, Obama toured the Holocaust Museum with Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.