Text: H.R.2534 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

There is one version of the bill.

Text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip?

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (06/19/2003)

 
[Congressional Bills 108th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 2534 Introduced in House (IH)]







108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 2534

To promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law by providing a 
process for executive agencies for declassifying on an expedited basis 
  and disclosing certain documents relating to human rights abuses in 
                countries other than the United States.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             June 19, 2003

  Mr. Lantos (for himself, Mr. Shays, Mr. Tom Davis of Virginia, Mr. 
    Waxman, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mrs. Maloney, Mr. LaHood, Mr. 
   Kucinich, Ms. Norton, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Cooper, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. 
 McGovern, Mr. DeFazio, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. Abercrombie, 
Mr. McNulty, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Sandlin, Mr. Brown of Ohio, Mr. 
    Delahunt, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Stark, Mr. Olver, and Mr. Filner) 
 introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on 
                           Government Reform

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
To promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law by providing a 
process for executive agencies for declassifying on an expedited basis 
  and disclosing certain documents relating to human rights abuses in 
                countries other than the United States.

    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.

    The Congress finds the following:
            (1) The commitment to the promotion and protection of human 
        rights, democracy, and the rule of law around the world has led 
        the United States to undertake tremendous diplomatic, economic, 
        and military efforts to end systematic gross human rights 
        violations abroad, consistent with the national interests and 
        international leadership role of the United States. Such 
        efforts are thwarted if the cycle of impunity for human rights 
        violations in countries other than the United States is not 
        broken, and the likelihood of the need for renewed United 
        States engagements in those countries remains.
            (2) The United States has a significant interest that newly 
        established or reestablished democratic societies take credible 
        steps to fully investigate and prosecute human rights 
        violations. Such steps could include the creation of a national 
        or international truth commission or tribunal, the appointment 
        of a human rights officer, or the leading of official national 
        investigations by credible sections of the civil society, 
        including religious institutions and nongovernmental 
        organizations.
            (3) Executive agencies are in possession of documents 
        pertaining to gross human rights violations abroad that are 
        needed by foreign authorities to document, investigate, and 
        subsequently prosecute instances of continued and systematic 
        gross human rights violations, including those directed against 
        citizens of the United States.
            (4) The overwhelming importance to the United States of 
        investigations by foreign authorities of gross human rights 
        violations and the urgency of requests for legal assistance 
        which the United States will continue to receive from foreign 
        entities require a systematic process of expedited 
        declassification and disclosure of documents pertaining to such 
        gross human rights violations.
            (5) After a 36-year history of being open to foreign 
        requesters, the Freedom of Information Act (section 552 of 
        title 5, United States Code) was amended in the 107th Congress 
        by the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 
        (Public Law 107-306) to prohibit agencies within the 
        intelligence community from making records available to foreign 
        entities or their representatives.
            (6) Only an expedited systematic process can help ensure 
        timely investigations of perpetrators of gross and systematic 
        human rights violations and provide families with urgently 
        needed information regarding the fate of relatives, including 
        information making possible the location, identification, and 
        burial of the remains of family members who have been killed, 
        helping to bring closure for those families and beginning the 
        process of national reconciliation.

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 
        violations of internationally recognized human rights committed 
        in a country other than the United States, except that such 
        term does not include any record submitted to or compiled by 
        the Immigration and Naturalization Service or its successors 
        (including the Bureau of Border Security and the Bureau of 
        Citizenship and Immigration Services).
            (2) Agency.--The term ``agency'' means the National 
        Archives and Records Administration (and all the Presidential 
        libraries it maintains), the National Security Council, the 
        Office of National Drug Control Policy, and any executive 
        agency of the United States Government charged with the conduct 
        of foreign policy or foreign intelligence, including, but not 
limited to, the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the 
Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Agency for 
International Development, and the National Reconnaissance Office, 
except that such term does not include the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service or its successors (including the Bureau of 
Border Security and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration 
Services).
            (3) Appeals panel.--The term ``Appeals Panel'' means the 
        Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel created by 
        Executive Order number 12958 (or any successor entity or review 
        procedure).
            (4) Gross violations of internationally recognized human 
        rights.--The term ``gross violations of internationally 
        recognized human rights'' has the meaning given that term in 
        section 502B(d)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 
        U.S.C. 2304(d)(1)).
            (5) International bona fide request.--The term 
        ``international bona fide request'' means a request for a human 
        rights record from an individual or entity (such as an entity 
        created by the United Nations, a regional international 
        organization, a national truth commission, or the principal 
        justice or human rights official of a country) that is carrying 
        out an official mandate to investigate a pattern of gross 
        violations of internationally recognized human rights, pursuant 
        to a proceeding that--
                    (A) is a credible examination or investigation 
                conducted in accordance with the mandate of the entity 
                or official;
                    (B) is carried out in accordance with international 
                law, including laws regarding appropriate jurisdiction 
                of the person or entity carrying out the proceeding; 
                and
                    (C) does not threaten to violate due process or 
                other internationally recognized human rights.
            (6) International law.--The term ``international law'' 
        means the rules and principles of general application dealing 
        with the conduct and relations of nations and international 
        organizations.

SEC. 4. DETERMINATIONS REQUIRED REGARDING REQUESTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
              RECORDS.

    (a) Determination Required.--If the President or the head of an 
agency receives a request for a human rights record from an individual 
or entity (such as an entity created by the United Nations, a regional 
international organization, a national truth commission, or the 
principal justice or human rights official of a country) that is 
carrying out an official mandate to investigate a pattern of gross 
violations of internationally recognized human rights, not later than 
60 days after the receipt of such request the President (or the 
Attorney General on behalf of the President) shall make a determination 
whether such request is an international bona fide request.
    (b) Procedures in Case of Positive Determination.--If the President 
(or the Attorney General on behalf of the President) makes a 
determination that a request under subsection (a) is an international 
bona fide request, not later than 120 days after the date that the 
President or Attorney General makes such determination, the heads of 
the appropriate agencies shall identify, review, and organize all human 
rights records with respect to such request for the purpose of 
declassifying and disclosing the records to the public. Except as 
provided in section 5 and subsection (d), all records described in the 
preceding sentence shall be made available to the public not later than 
30 days after the date that a review under this subsection is 
completed.
    (c) Procedures in Case of Negative Determination.--If the President 
(or the Attorney General on behalf of the President) makes a 
determination that a request under subsection (a) is not an 
international bona fide request, such determination, and a detailed 
explanation regarding such determination, shall be published in the 
Federal Register not later than 90 days after the date that such 
request is received.
    (d) Confidentiality To Protect Ongoing Investigations.--
            (1) Disclosure of records on confidential basis.--The head 
        of an agency disclosing human rights records as a result of a 
        positive determination under subsection (b) may, at the agency 
        head's initiative or at the request of the individual or entity 
        that submitted the request for records, disclose such records 
        to the individual or entity on a confidential basis if the 
        agency head determines that confidential disclosure is 
        necessary to avoid jeopardizing an ongoing investigation.
            (2) Delayed public disclosure of records.--If the agency 
        head determines that confidential disclosure of records under 
        paragraph (1) is necessary, the agency head may withhold such 
        records from public disclosure until the agency head 
        determines, in consultation with the individual or entity that 
        submitted the request, that the need for confidentiality no 
        longer exists.

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

    (a) In General.--The head of an agency may postpone disclosure of a 
human rights record or particular information in a human rights record 
under this Act only if the head of 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 that would result from disclosure of the human rights 
        record is of such gravity that it outweighs the public 
        interest, and such disclosure would reveal--
                    (A) an intelligence agent whose identity 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 disclosure of the human rights record--
                    (A) would reveal the name or identity of a living 
                individual who provided confidential information to the 
                United States; and
                    (B) would pose a substantial risk of harm to such 
                individual or to any member of the family, friend, or 
                associate of such individual;
            (3) the disclosure of the human rights record could 
        reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of 
        personal privacy, and that invasion of privacy would be so 
        substantial that it outweighs the public interest; or
            (4) the disclosure of the human rights record would 
        compromise the existence of an understanding of confidentiality 
        requiring protection between a United States Government agent 
        and a cooperating individual or a foreign government, and 
        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 any of the criteria set forth in 
subsection (a) are met. For purposes of the preceding sentence, the 
term ``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. REVIEW OF DETERMINATIONS TO WITHHOLD RECORDS.

    (a) Duties of the Appeals Panel.--The Appeals Panel shall review 
all determinations by the head of an agency to postpone disclosure of a 
record under this Act.
    (b) Determinations of the Appeals Panel.--
            (1) In general.--The Appeals Panel may uphold a 
        determination by the head of an agency to postpone disclosure 
        of a record under this Act only if the Appeals Panel determines 
        that there is clear and convincing evidence that--
                    (A) the record is not a human rights record; or
                    (B) the record or particular information in the 
                record qualifies for postponement of disclosure under 
                section 5.
            (2) Treatment in cases of nondisclosure.--If the Appeals 
        Panel concurs with an agency decision to postpone disclosure of 
        a record under this Act, the Appeals Panel shall determine, in 
        consultation with the head of the 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 under this paragraph are the following:
                    (A) Disclosure of any reasonably segregable portion 
                of the human rights record after deletion of the 
                portions described in paragraph (1)(B).
                    (B) Disclosure of a record that is a substitute for 
                information that is not disclosed.
                    (C) Disclosure of a summary of the information in 
                the human rights record.
            (4) Notification of determination.--
                    (A) In general.--Upon completion of a review under 
                this section, the Appeals Panel shall notify the head 
                of the agency in control or possession of the 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 a determination under this 
                section. The notice shall contain a written 
                unclassified justification for the determination, 
                including an explanation of the application of the 
                criteria set forth in section 5.
            (5) General procedures.--The Appeals Panel shall publish in 
        the Federal Register guidelines regarding its policy and 
        procedures for adjudicating appeals under this section.
    (c) Presidential Review of Appeals Panel Determinations.--
            (1) Disclosure or postponement of disclosure.--The 
        President shall have the sole and nondelegable authority to 
        review any determination of the Appeals Panel under this Act, 
        and such review shall be based on the criteria set forth in 
        section 5. If the Appeals Panel overturns the determination of 
        the head of an agency to withhold records from 
        declassification, not later than 30 days after the Appeals 
        Panel's determination and notification to the head of the 
        agency under subsection (b)(4), the President shall provide the 
        Appeals Panel with an unclassified written certification 
        specifying the President's determination and stating the 
        reasons for the decision, including, in the case of a 
        determination to postpone disclosure, the criteria set forth in 
        section 5 that 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 record under this Act.

SEC. 7. IDENTIFICATION, REVIEW, AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF CERTAIN HUMAN 
              RIGHTS RECORDS.

    (a) In General.--Not later than 120 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall identify, review, 
and organize all human rights records regarding activities occurring in 
Guatemala and Honduras for the purpose of declassifying and disclosing 
such 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 the date that a review under 
this section is completed.
    (b) Report to Congress.--Not later than 150 days after the date of 
the enactment of this Act, the President shall report to Congress 
regarding each agency's compliance with the provisions of this section.

SEC. 8. RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

    (a) In General.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the 
provisions of this Act shall govern the declassification and public 
disclosure of human rights records by executive agencies.
    (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. 
For purposes of this Act, determinations by the Attorney General made 
on behalf of the President under section 4(a) shall be subject to the 
same standard of judicial review as determinations by the President.

SEC. 9. CREATION OF ADDITIONAL POSITIONS FOR APPEALS PANEL.

    Two additional positions shall be created for the Appeals Panel 
solely for purposes of carrying out the provisions of this Act. In 
filling such positions, the President--
            (1) shall appoint individuals who--
                    (A) were not involved in making determinations that 
                could be reviewed by the Appeals Panel;
                    (B) have demonstrated substantial human rights 
                expertise; and
                    (C) are able to meet the security requirements for 
                such positions; and
            (2) shall seek recommendations with respect to such 
        positions from nongovernmental human rights organizations.
                                 <all>