Summary: S.1868 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.1868. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (03/26/1998)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Department of State Activities

Title II: Commission on International Religious Persecution

Title II: National Security Council

Title IV: Sanctions

Subtitle I: Targeted Responses to Religious Persecution

Abroad

Subtitle II: Strengthening Existing Law

Title V: Promotion of Religious Freedom

Title VI: Refugee, Asylum, and Consular Matters

Title VII: Miscellaneous Provisions

International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 - Declares it to be U.S. policy to: (1) condemn religious persecution, and to promote, and to assist other governments in the promotion of, the fundamental right to religious freedom; and (2) seek to channel U.S. security and development assistance to governments that are found not to be engaged in gross violations of human rights, including the right to religious freedom.

Title I: Department of State Activities - Establishes within the Department of State an Office on International Religious Freedom which shall be headed by an Ambassador at Large on International Religious Freedom.

(Sec. 102) Directs the Ambassador at Large to assist the Secretary of State in preparing those portions of the Human Rights Reports that relate to freedom of religion and religious discrimination, and to submit to the appropriate congressional committees, in conjunction with the Human Rights Reports, an Annual Report on Religious Persecution: (1) identifying foreign countries that engage in or tolerate acts of religious persecution; and (2) describing U.S. policies in support of religious freedom in such countries.

(Sec. 103) Requires the Ambassador at Large, in order to facilitate access by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the public around the world to international documents on the protection of religious freedom, to establish an Internet site containing major international documents relating to religious freedom, the Annual Report on Religious Persecution, and any other relevant documentation or references to other sites.

(Sec. 104) Amends the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to direct the Secretary and the Ambassador at Large to establish as part of the standard training for Foreign Service officers, including chiefs of mission, instruction in the field of internationally-recognized human rights.

(Sec. 105) Directs U.S. chiefs of mission to seek out and meet with religious NGOs, including imprisoned religious leaders where appropriate.

(Sec. 106) Expresses the sense of the Congress that: (1) U.S. diplomatic missions in countries where the government engages in or tolerates religious persecution should develop, as part of annual program planning, a strategy to promote freedom of religion; and (2) in allocating funds or recommending candidates for U.S. programs and grants, U.S. missions should give particular consideration to those programs and candidates deemed to assist in the promotion of the right to religious freedom.

(Sec. 107) Directs the Secretary to permit, on terms no less favorable than that accorded other nongovernmental activities, access to the premises of U.S. diplomatic missions by U.S. citizens seeking to conduct religious activities.

(Sec. 108) Expresses the sense of the Congress that, in order to encourage involvement with religious persecution concerns at every possible opportunity and by all appropriate U.S. Government representatives, officials of the executive branch should promote increased advocacy with respect to the preparation of issue briefs consisting of lists of persons believed to be imprisoned for their religious faith during meetings between executive branch and congressional leaders and foreign dignitaries.

Title II: Commission on International Religious Persecution - Establishes the United States Commission on International Religious Persecution.

(Sec. 202) Makes the Commission's primary responsibility to: (1) consider the facts and circumstances of religious persecution presented in the Annual Report on Religious Persecution, as well as information from other appropriate sources; and (2) make appropriate policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary, and the Congress.

Title III: National Security Council - Amends the National Security Act of 1947 to express the sense of the Congress that there should be within the staff of the National Security Council a Special Adviser to the President on Religious Persecution, serving as a resource for executive branch officials, compiling information on the facts and circumstances of religious persecution and violations of religious freedom, and making policy recommendations.

Title IV: Sanctions - Subtitle I: Targeted Responses to Religious Persecution Abroad - Directs the President, for each foreign country in which the government engages in or tolerates religious persecution, to oppose that persecution by certain measures and promote the right to freedom of religion in that country. Prescribes a procedure for determining, before the President imposes any sanctions or commensurate actions, whether a foreign government has engaged in a consistent pattern of gross violations of the right to religious freedom.

(Sec. 403) Directs the President to: (1) consult with the violating foreign government prior to imposing such sanctions; and (2) report to the Congress.

(Sec. 405) Specifies among the measures and sanctions the President may take: (1) public condemnation; (2) cancellation of scientific and cultural exchanges; (3) withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. development assistance and U.S. security assistance; (4) withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of certain preferential tariff treatment; (5) instruction of U.S. executive directors of international financial institutions to vote against loans primarily benefiting the foreign government responsible for such persecution; (6) restrictions on the issuance of licenses to export any goods or technology to such foreign government; (7) prohibition against the making, guaranteeing, or insuring of loans, or extension of credit by certain U.S. financial institutions to the violating government; and (8) prohibition of U.S. Government procurement of goods or services from such government. Provides for commensurate actions in substitution for any of such measures and sanctions.

Declares that any such action may not: (1) prohibit or restrict the provision of humanitarian assistance; or (2) impede any U.S. Government action to enforce the right to maintain intellectual property rights.

(Sec. 407) Authorizes the President to waive the requirements of this Act if certain conditions are met.

(Sec. 409) Provides for congressional review of any sanctions imposed, or the waiver of any requirements, under this Act.

Subtitle II: Strengthening Existing Law - Amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the International Financial Institutions Act to add as a factor for consideration in formulating U.S. development assistance, military assistance, and multilateral assistance programs whether the government of a foreign country has: (1) engaged in gross violations of the right to freedom of religion; or (2) failed to undertake serious and sustained efforts to combat gross violations of the right to freedom of religion, when such efforts could have been reasonably undertaken.

(Sec. 423) Requires the inclusion on the list of crime control and detection instruments or equipment controlled for export or reexport under the Export Administration Act of 1979 (and so subject to mandatory licensing) items the Secretary of State has determined are being used or are intended for use directly and in significant measure to carry out gross violations of the right to freedom of religion. Declares that the prohibition on the issuance of a license for export of crime control and detection instruments or equipment under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 shall apply to the export or reexport of such items.

Title V: Promotion of Religious Freedom - Amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to authorize the use of development assistance funds to carry out programs and activities in foreign countries which will encourage and promote the right to free religious belief and practice.

(Sec. 502) Amends the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 and the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 with respect to promoting respect for freedom of religion.

(Sec. 504) Amends the Foreign Service Act of 1980 to state that service in the promotion of internationally recognized human rights, including the right to religious freedom, shall serve as a basis for the award of performance pay and Foreign Service awards to Foreign Service employees.

Title VI: Refugee, Asylum, and Consular Matters - Requires the Annual Report on Religious Persecution to serve as a resource for immigration judges and consular, refugee, and asylum officers in cases involving claims of persecution on the grounds of religion.

(Sec. 602) Directs the Attorney General to provide all U.S. officials adjudicating refugee cases with the same training provided to officers adjudicating asylum cases, including training on the right to religious freedom and religious persecution.

Requires the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to develop and implement guidelines that address potential hostile biases in Immigration and Naturalization Service personnel hired abroad and involved with duties which could constitute an effective barrier to a refugee claim if such personnel carry a hostile bias toward the claimant on the grounds of religion, race, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Requires the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to: (1) develop guidelines to ensure uniform procedures to the extent possible with Joint Voluntary Agencies; and (2) ensure that the Joint Voluntary Agencies process is enhanced, and faulty preparation of claims does not result in the failure of a genuine claim to refugee status.

(Sec. 603) Requires the Attorney General and the Secretary of State to develop guidelines to ensure that interpreters with hostile biases, including personnel of airlines owned by governments known to be involved in practices which would meet the definition of persecution under international refugee law, shall not in any manner be used to interpret conversations between aliens and inspection or asylum officers.

Requires the Attorney General to provide training to all officers adjudicating asylum cases on the right to religious freedom and the nature of religious persecution abroad, including country-specific conditions.

Requires the Executive Office of Immigration Review of the Department of Justice to incorporate into its initial and ongoing training of immigration judges training on the extent and nature of religious persecution internationally, including country-specific conditions.

(Sec. 604) Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to make inadmissible for naturalization any alien (including a spouse and children) who, while serving as a foreign government official, directly engaged in gross violations of the right to religious freedom.

Title VII: Miscellaneous Provisions - Expresses the sense of the Congress that transnational corporations operating in countries in which the government engages in gross violations of the right to religious freedom should adopt codes of conduct: (1) upholding the right to religious freedom of their employees; and (2) ensuring that a worker's religious views in no way affect the status or terms of his or her employment.

(Sec. 702) Expresses the sense of the Congress that in negotiating the definitions of crimes to be included in the subject matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the President should pursue the inclusion of gross violations of the right to religious freedom, to the extent they fall within the meaning in international law of crimes against humanity or genocide.