Text: S.1220 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (09/25/1997)

 
[Congressional Bills 105th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. 1220 Introduced in Senate (IS)]







105th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 S. 1220

 To provide a process for declassifying on an expedited basis certain 
  documents relating to human rights abuses in Guatemala and Honduras.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                           September 25, 1997

  Mr. Dodd (for himself, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Bumpers, and Mrs. Murray) 
introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the 
                   Committee on Governmental Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To provide a process for declassifying on an expedited basis certain 
  documents relating to human rights abuses in Guatemala and Honduras.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Human Rights Information Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) Agencies of the Government of the United States have 
        information on human rights violations in Guatemala and 
        Honduras.
            (2) Members of both Houses of Congress have repeatedly 
        asked the Administration for information on Guatemalan and 
        Honduran human rights cases.
            (3) The Guatemalan peace accords, which the Government of 
        the United States firmly supports, has as an important and 
        vital component the establishment of the Commission for the 
        Historical Clarification of Human Rights Violations and Acts of 
        Violence which have Caused Suffering to the Guatemalan People 
        (referred to in this Act as the ``Clarification Commission''). 
        The Clarification Commission will investigate cases of human 
        rights violations and abuses by both parties to the civil 
        conflict in Guatemala and will need all available information 
        to fulfill its mandate.
            (4) The National Commissioner for the Protection of Human 
        Rights in the Republic of Honduras has been requesting United 
        States Government documentation on human rights violations in 
        Honduras since November 15, 1993. The Commissioner's request 
        has been partly fulfilled, but is still pending. The request 
        has been supported by national and international human rights 
        nongovernmental organizations as well as members of both Houses 
        of Congress.
            (5) Victims and survivors of human rights violations, 
        including United States citizens and their relatives, have also 
        been requesting the information referred to in paragraphs (3) 
        and (4). Survivors and the relatives of victims have a right to 
        know what happened. The requests have been supported by 
        national and international human rights nongovernmental 
        organizations as well as members of both Houses of Congress.
            (6) The United States should make the information it has on 
        human rights abuses available to the public as part of the 
        United States commitment to democracy in Central America.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Human rights record.--The term ``human rights record'' 
        means a record in the possession, custody, or control of the 
        United States Government containing information about gross 
        human rights violations committed after 1944.
            (2) Agency.--The term ``agency'' means any agency of the 
        United States Government charged with the conduct of foreign 
        policy or foreign intelligence, including the Department of 
        State, the Agency for International Development, the Department 
        of Defense (and all of its components), the Central 
        Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the 
        Department of Justice (and all of its components), the National 
        Security Council, and the Executive Office of the President.

SEC. 4. IDENTIFICATION, REVIEW, AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF HUMAN RIGHTS 
              RECORDS REGARDING GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS.

    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the 
provision of this Act shall govern the declassification and public 
disclosure of human rights records by agencies.
    (b) Identification of Records.--Not later than 120 days after the 
date of enactment of this Act, each agency shall identify, review, and 
organize all human rights records regarding activities occurring in 
Guatemala and Honduras after 1944 for the purpose of declassifying and 
disclosing the records to the public. Except as provided in section 5, 
all records described in the preceding sentence shall be made available 
to the public not later than 30 days after a review under this section 
is completed.
    (c) Report to Congress.--Not later than 150 days after the date of 
enactment of this Act, the President shall report to Congress regarding 
each agency's compliance with the provisions of this Act.

SEC. 5. GROUNDS FOR POSTPONEMENT OF PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF RECORDS.

    (a) In General.--An agency may postpone public disclosure of a 
human rights record or particular information in a human rights record 
only if the agency determines that there is clear and convincing 
evidence that--
            (1) the threat to the military defense, intelligence 
        operations, or conduct of foreign relations of the United 
        States raised by public disclosure of the human rights record 
        is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest, and 
        such public disclosure would reveal--
                    (A) an intelligence agent whose identity currently 
                requires protection;
                    (B) an intelligence source or method--
                            (i) which is being utilized, or reasonably 
                        expected to be utilized, by the United States 
                        Government;
                            (ii) which has not been officially 
                        disclosed; and
                            (iii) the disclosure of which would 
                        interfere with the conduct of intelligence 
                        activities; or
                    (C) any other matter currently relating to the 
                military defense, intelligence operations, or conduct 
                of foreign relations of the United States, the 
                disclosure of which would demonstrably impair the 
                national security of the United States;
            (2) the public disclosure of the human rights record would 
        reveal the name or identity of a living individual who provided 
        confidential information to the United States and would pose a 
        substantial risk of harm to that individual;
            (3) the public disclosure of the human rights record could 
        reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of 
        personal privacy, and that invasion of privacy is so 
        substantial that it outweighs the public interest; or
            (4) the public disclosure of the human rights record would 
        compromise the existence of an understanding of confidentiality 
        currently requiring protection between a Government agent and a 
        cooperating individual or a foreign government, and public 
        disclosure would be so harmful that it outweighs the public 
        interest.
    (b) Special Treatment of Certain Information.--It shall not be 
grounds for postponement of disclosure of a human rights record that an 
individual named in the human rights record was an intelligence asset 
of the United States Government, although the existence of such 
relationship may be withheld if the criteria set forth in subsection 
(a) are met. For purposes of the preceding sentence, the term an 
``intelligence asset'' means a covert agent as defined in section 
606(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 426(4)).

SEC. 6. REQUEST FOR HUMAN RIGHTS RECORDS FROM OFFICIAL ENTITIES IN 
              OTHER LATIN AMERICAN CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES.

    In the event that an agency of the United States receives a request 
for human rights records from an entity created by the United Nations 
or the Organization of American States similar to the Guatemalan 
Clarification Commission, or from the principal justice or human rights 
official of a Latin American or Caribbean country who is investigating 
a pattern of gross human rights violations, the agency shall conduct a 
review of records as described in section 4 and shall declassify and 
publicly disclose such records in accordance with the standards and 
procedures set forth in this Act.

SEC. 7. REVIEW OF DECISIONS TO WITHHOLD RECORDS.

    (a) Duties of the Appeals Panel.--The Interagency Security 
Classification Appeals Panel (referred to in this Act as the ``Appeals 
Panel''), established under Executive Order No. 12958, shall review 
determinations by an agency to postpone public disclosure of any human 
rights record.
    (b) Determinations of the Appeals Panel.--
            (1) In general.--The Appeals Panel shall direct that all 
        human rights records be disclosed to the public, unless the 
        Appeals Panel determines that there is clear and convincing 
        evidence that--
                    (A) the record is not a human rights record; or
                    (B) the human rights record or particular 
                information in the human rights record qualifies for 
                postponement of disclosure pursuant to section 5.
            (2) Treatment in cases of nondisclosure.--If the Appeals 
        Panel concurs with an agency decision to postpone disclosure of 
        a human rights record, the Appeals Panel shall determine, in 
        consultation with the originating agency and consistent with 
        the standards set forth in this Act, which, if any, of the 
        alternative forms of disclosure described in paragraph (3) 
        shall be made by the agency.
            (3) Alternative forms of disclosure.--The forms of 
        disclosure described in this paragraph are as follows:
                    (A) Disclosure of any reasonably segregable portion 
                of the human rights record after deletion of the 
                portions described in paragraph (1).
                    (B) Disclosure of a record that is a substitute for 
                information which is not disclosed.
                    (C) Disclosure of a summary of the information 
                contained in the human rights record.
            (4) Notification of determination.--
                    (A) In general.--Upon completion of its review, the 
                Appeals Panel shall notify the head of the agency in 
                control or possession of the human rights record that 
                was the subject of the review of its determination and 
                shall, not later than 14 days after the determination, 
                publish the determination in the Federal Register.
                    (B) Notice to president.--The Appeals Panel shall 
                notify the President of its determination. The notice 
                shall contain a written unclassified justification for 
                its determination, including an explanation of the 
                application of the standards contained in section 5.
            (5) General procedures.--The Appeals Panel shall publish in 
        the Federal Register guidelines regarding its policy and 
        procedures for adjudicating appeals.
    (c) Presidential Authority Over Appeals Panel Determination.--
            (1) Public disclosure or postponement of disclosure.--The 
        President shall have the sole and nondelegable authority to 
        review any determination of the Appeals Board under this Act, 
        and such review shall be based on the standards set forth in 
        section 5. Not later than 30 days after the Appeals Panel's 
        determination and notification to the agency pursuant to 
        subsection (b)(4), the President shall provide the Appeals 
        Panel with an unclassified written certification specifying the 
        President's decision and stating the reasons for the decision, 
        including in the case of a determination to postpone 
        disclosure, the standards set forth in section 5 which are the 
        basis for the President's determination.
            (2) Record of presidential postponement.--The Appeals Panel 
        shall, upon receipt of the President's determination, publish 
        in the Federal Register a copy of any unclassified written 
        certification, statement, and other materials transmitted by or 
        on behalf of the President with regard to the postponement of 
        disclosure of a human rights record.

SEC. 8. REPORT REGARDING OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS RECORDS.

    Upon completion of the review and disclosure of the human rights 
records relating to Guatemala and Honduras, the Information Security 
Policy Advisory Council, established pursuant to Executive Order No. 
12958, shall report to Congress on the desirability and feasibility of 
declassification of human rights records relating to other countries in 
Latin America and the Caribbean. The report shall be available to the 
public.

SEC. 9. RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

    (a) Freedom of Information Act.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
construed to limit any right to file a request with any executive 
agency or seek judicial review of a decision pursuant to section 552 of 
title 5, United States Code.
    (b) Judicial Review.--Nothing in this Act shall be construed to 
preclude judicial review, under chapter 7 of title 5, United States 
Code, of final actions taken or required to be taken under this Act.

SEC. 10. CREATION OF POSITIONS.

    For purposes of carrying out the provisions of this Act, there 
shall be 2 additional positions in the Appeals Panel. The positions 
shall be filled by the President, based on the recommendations of the 
American Historical Association, the Latin American Studies 
Association, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, USA.
                                 <all>

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