|107th Congress: 2001-2002|
S. 2712 - Afghanistan Freedom Support Act
Among other things, the act states that assistance to Afghanistan should "foster the growth of a pluralistic society that promotes and respects religious freedom" Some of the USCIRF's recommendations were incorporated into the final version of the Act. They include: urging the President to use his diplomatic resources to promote the expansion of the ISAF beyond Kabul; authorizing assistance to programs to promote religious freedom in school curriculums, to programs in support of drafting a constitution that protects religious freedom, and to programs to strengthen a civil society that respects religious freedom; authorizing assistance to women and girls in the area of human rights, including religious freedom; and expressing the Sense of Congress that the United States should support training of the military, police and legal personnel on human rights in Afghanistan.
Expresses a Sense of Congress that the governments of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan should, among other things, release from prison all those jailed for peaceful political activism or religious belief, investigate all allegations of torture and prosecute those responsible, permit the free exercise of religious beliefs, and cease the persecution of religious minorities and non-state registered religious denominations; U.S. assistance to these governments should not benefit security forces implicated in human rights violations, and that increased aid due to their support during the war in Afghanistan ought to be sustained only if there is substantial and continuing progress toward meeting human rights goals; and the U.S. should follow the USCIRF's recommendation to designate Turkmenistan a CPC, and make it clear to Uzbekistan that it risks CPC designation if human rights conditions do not improve there.
H.Con.Res. 73 - China/Olympics
The resolution quotes the Department of State's 2000 Human Rights Report descriptions of human rights abuses, noting that "The Government continued to restrict freedom of religion and intensified controls on some unregistered churches;" calls for the creation of an international "Beijing Olympic Games Human Rights Campaign," which would focus on pressuring China to release all political prisoners and to ratify the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights before the Games; calls on the Secretary of State to publicly endorse the campaign and promote it among our allies and others engaged in a human rights dialogue with China; requests that the President call for the same measures during his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leader's Summit this fall in Shanghai; and recommends that the Congressional-Executive Commission on China created by H.R. 4444 "devote significant resources to monitoring any violations of the rights of political dissidents and political prisoners, or other increased abuses of internationally-recognized human rights in the preparation to the 2008 Olympic Games and during the Olympic Games themselves." (The Commission recommended in its 2001 Annual Report that China not be granted the Olympics until significant and sustained improvements are made in religious freedom and human rights there.)
Reflects the views of the Commission made public in a 4/15/02 statement. The resolution finds that there has been a significant rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe over the past 18 months fueled by continued violence in the Middle East, and expresses a Sense of Congress that "the governments of Europe should take all necessary steps to protect the safety and well-being of their respective Jewish communities" and should "make a concerted effort to cultivate an atmosphere of cooperation and reconciliation among the Jewish and non-Jewish residents of Europe."
Reflecting the views of the Commission made public in a 4/15/02 statement, the resolution notes a rise in attacks on Jewish communities in Europe over the past 18 months, calls on European governments to investigate the crimes and punish the perpetrators to the full extent possible, and calls upon the Administration and Congress to raise this issue in bilateral contacts. Also expresses Sense of Congress calling on European governments to "acknowledge publicly and without reservation the anti-Semitic character of the attacks as violations of human rights," to condemn the rationalization of anti-Jewish attacks as a result of the situation in the Middle East, and to take measures to ensure the security of Jewish citizens and institutions; suggests the State Department should thoroughly document this phenomenon in Europe and worldwide in its human rights reports; and urges the USCIRF to continue to document and report on it as well.
A Concurrent Resolution expressing the sense of Congress regarding North Korean refugees in China and those who are returned to North Korea where they face torture, imprisonment, and execution.
The resolution calls on the PRC to make an effort to identify and protect North Korean refugees, allow them to petition for asylum, give the UNHCR access to the North Korean refugees in China, and to halt the repatriations of refugees seeking asylum. The resolution also notes that North Koreans do not enjoy freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly, or association, and that followers of prohibited religious beliefs are severely punished, and encourages the U.S. government to consider asylum and refugee claims of North Koreans arising from fear of persecution; urges the North Korean government to alleviate the suffering of its people, to respect their universally recognized human rights, and to take steps to implement the North-South Joint Declaration agreed to on 6/15/00.
H.Res. 348 - Pakistan/ Religious
Calls on President Musharraf to repeal the Blasphemy Law and Martial Ordinance XX, and to release prisoners jailed under these laws; repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan that declares Ahmadis `not Muslims'; and encourages him to eliminate the requirement to declare one's religion when applying for a passport or admission to an educational institution, a national identity card, or employment. Also calls on the President and the Secretary of State to raise violations of freedom of religion at every appropriate level with representatives of the Government of Pakistan, including during discussions on terrorism and nuclear proliferation and to include experts on religious freedom on U.S. delegations to Pakistan and to appropriate regional and international meetings.
Expresses a Sense of the Senate that "the war on terrorism does not excuse, and is ultimately undermined by, abuses by Russian security forces against the civilian population in Chechnya;" reflecting recommendations made in its letter to President Bush on October 5, 2001. Also calls on the Russian government to immediately investigate human rights violations and initiate prosecution against those accused where appropriate, provide secure and unhindered access to the area by international monitors and humanitarian organizations, ensure that refugees are registered in accordance with international law, receive adequate assistance, and are not forcibly returned to Chechnya; and urges the President of the United States to ensure that recipients of U.S. assistance are not implicated in human rights abuses, to seek information from the Russian government on human rights abuses, promote negotiations between the Russian and elected Chechen government, and reexamine the status of Chechen refugees, including consideration of possible resettlement in the U.S.
The bill authorizes $100 million a year for fiscal 2003 through 2005 to prepare for democratic governance and establishes reporting and certification requirements of the President for monitoring the peace process. The bill instructs the U.S. to oppose international financial institution loans, credits and guarantees to the GOS, consider downgrading or suspending diplomatic relations, take steps to deny the GOS access to oil revenues, and seek a U.N. Security Council Resolution to impose an arms embargo on the GOS if the President certifies that the GOS is not engaged in good faith negotiations for a just and lasting peace, if they have interfered with humanitarian efforts, or if they are not in compliance with the terms of a permanent peace agreement; and suggests that the President, acting through the U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., seek to take appropriate measures to end slavery and aerial bombardment of civilians by the GOS.
This resolution demands that the Government of Sudan facilitate the reunification of family members separated by slave raids; calls upon human rights organizations to facilitate safe passage for slave victims; requests an end to the use of euphemisms such as "abduction" as substitutes for slavery; and urges the U.S. President to sponsor a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Government of Sudan for its participation in slavery-related human rights abuses, create a "Slave Victims Fund," and spend the funds allocated for the NDA for fiscal year 2001. The resolution quotes USCIRF's March 21st Sudan report in describing the GOS's human rights abuses.
The bill urges the President to prohibit oil companies operating in Sudan from raising capital or trading equities in U.S. capital markets, echoing a recommendation the Commission made in its Sudan report issued on March 21st, 2001. It also calls upon oil companies in Sudan to freeze production until a peace agreement is reached, slave raids and the bombing of civilians has stopped, political prisoners are freed, and the state of emergency is lifted; calls upon the international community to boycott oil from Sudan; urges U.S. entities and individuals invested in companies involved in oil development in Sudan to divest; and requests that the President investigate possible violations of U.S. Sudan sanctions by the April 2000 PetroChina Initial Public Offering.
This bill quotes the chapter on Vietnam in the USCIRF's 2001 Annual Report extensively in citing the Government of Vietnam's persecution of religious groups. It expresses concern that the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement "not be construed as a statement of approval or complacency" regarding the Government of Vietnam's human rights and religious freedom abuses. It prohibits any new or any increase in existing bilateral non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam until it makes significant progress toward respecting the right to freedom of religion and releasing all political and religious prisoners, among other things; and requires that the U.S. oppose non-humanitarian aid from international financial institutions if the President certifies that the government of Vietnam commits gross violations of internationally recognized human rights (including religious freedom). The bill authorizes assistance to organizations committed to promoting human rights and democracy in Vietnam, it declares it to be the policy of the United States to overcome the jamming of Radio Free Asia (authorizing funds to that end in fiscal years 2002 and 2003), and it promotes cultural exchange programs. The original bill established a Congressional-Executive Commission on Relations with Vietnam, constructed similar to the China Commission created by the China PNTR bill (H.R. 4444). However, the version that passed the House eliminated this language. Instead it requires the Secretary of State to produce an annual report to Congress on progress being made on the above issues. Lastly, the bill declares it to be the policy of the United States to offer refugee resettlement to nationals of Vietnam who are deemed ineligible due to administrative error or reasons beyond their control or who were unable to apply for such programs within deadlines imposed by the Department of State. (The USCIRF recommended Congress ratify the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) only after it passed a sense of the Congress resolution calling for the Vietnamese government to undertake substantial improvements in religious freedom. The House passed this bill immediately before voting on the BTA.)
Among other things, authorizes $260 million for educational, cultural, and public diplomacy, $820 million for refugee and migration assistance, and $485 million for International Broadcasting Operations, including $35 million for Radio Free Asia, over $13 million for broadcasting capital improvements, over $25 million for broadcasting to Cuba, and an additional $20 million for the Middle East Radio Network of Voice of America; requires the Secretary of State to submit a report containing a plan to achieve public diplomacy objectives, creates an Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy; instructs the U.S. to make an effort to secure a seat on the UN Commission on Human Rights and prevent membership of any member nation that the Secretary of State determines to be in violation of human rights or religious freedom; directs the President and the Secretary of State to encourage the PRC and the Dalai Lama to negotiate an agreement on Tibet and request in meetings with representatives from China the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of political or religious belief in Tibet; instructs the U.S. Ambassador to China to call for the cessation of interference by the government in the religious affairs of the Tibetan People; notes the U.S. should establish a branch office in Lhasa to monitor the political economic and cultural developments in Tibet; through USAID, authorizes the President $25 million to support the development of civil society (including establishing accountability for past human rights violations) in East Timor; states that promoting and protecting human rights is in the national interest of the U.S. and increases the budget for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, designates $21.5 million for the Human Rights and Democracy Fund; recommends that there should continue to be a U.S. Envoy for Peace in Sudan until a comprehensive settlement to the conflict that is acceptable to both parties is implemented; and expresses the Sense of Congress that the Indonesian government should make substantial progress toward ending human rights violations by the armed forces and investigate those responsible for the violations.