Summary: H.R.1685 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.1685. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (05/20/1997)

Freedom From Religious Persecution Act of 1997 - Establishes in the Executive Office of the President the Office of Religious Persecution Monitoring, whose Director, appointed by the President, with Senate consent, shall: (1) consider the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom presented in certain annual reports on human rights by the Department of State and by independent human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations; (2) make policy recommendations to the President regarding U.S. policies toward governments engaged in religious persecution; and (3) maintain lists of religious persecution facilitating goods and services and the responsible entities within countries engaged in religious persecution.

(Sec. 3) Distinguishes between category 1 religious persecution (conducted by government officials or agents) and category 2 religious persecution (conducted by non-government entities or persons, but which the government fails to undertake serious and sustained efforts to eliminate).

(Sec. 5) Requires the Director to report to specified congressional committees on countries and entities engaged in religious persecution, identifying the category of persecution and listing persecution facilitating products, goods, and services.

(Sec. 7) Prohibits: (1) Federal agencies and U.S. persons from exporting goods, including religious persecution facilitating goods and services, to countries and responsible entities engaged in religious persecution; and (2) U.S. and multilateral assistance to such countries.

Directs the President, in casting any vote concerning the membership of a country in the World Trade Organization (WTO), to consider as a significant factor that the country is engaged in religious persecution.

Directs the Secretary of State to deny the issuance of a visa to, and the Attorney General shall exclude from the United States, any alien responsible for carrying out acts of religious persecution.

(Sec. 8) Provides for the waiver of such sanctions.

(Sec. 9) Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996), with respect to eligibility for asylum in the United States, to include under the term "credible fear of persecution" aliens who can claim membership in a community found to be subject to religious persecution.

Directs the Attorney General to establish a program to provide training on religious persecution to immigration officers who inspect aliens for admission into the United States.

Sets forth procedures for the denial of admission based on religious persecution claims.

(Sec. 10) Sets forth requirements with respect to certain State Department human rights reports. Directs the Secretary of State to provide training on the right to religious freedom to chiefs of missions as well as certain Department officials.

(Sec. 11) Provides for the termination of sanctions.

(Sec. 12) Extends certain existing trade and economic sanctions against Sudan for supporting acts of international terrorism until the Director determines that Sudan has substantially eliminated religious persecution, or no longer supports acts of international terrorism, whichever occurs later. Imposes additional trade, economic, and cultural sanctions against Sudan. Sets forth penalties for violations of certain sanctions.

Declares it is the sense of the Congress that the President, or, at his discretion, the Secretary of State should convene an international conference of the other industrialized democracies to reach an international agreement to bring about an end to religious persecution in Sudan. Prescribes congressional procedures for implementing such an agreement.

Declares it is the sense of the Congress that the President should instruct the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations (UN) to propose that the UN Security Council impose measures against Sudan.

Makes it U.S. policy to impose additional measures against Sudan if its policy of religious persecution has not ended on or before December 25, 1997.