Summary: S.1215 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (06/11/2003)

Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 - (Sec. 3) Prohibits the importation into the United States of any article that is a product of Burma (Myanmar) until the President determines and certifies to Congress that Burma has met certain conditions, including that: (1) the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has made substantial progress to end violations of internationally recognized human rights including rape, and the Secretary of State reports to the appropriate congressional committees that the SPDC no longer violates workers' rights, including the use of forced and child labor, and conscription of child-soldiers; (2) the SPDC has made substantial progress toward implementing a democratic government, including releasing all political prisoners, allowing freedom of speech, the press, and association, permitting the peaceful exercise of religion, and concluding an agreement with the democratic forces led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Burma's ethnic nationalities on the transfer of power to a civilian government through democratic elections under the rule of law; and (3) Burma has not failed to make substantial efforts to adhere to its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements and to take other effective counternarcotics measures, including the arrest and extradition of all individuals under U.S. indictment for narcotics trafficking, and concrete actions to stem the flow of illicit drug money into Burma's banking system and economic enterprises and to stop the manufacture and export of methamphetamines. Authorizes the President to waive such requirements if: (1) it is in the vital national security interest of the United States; and (2) they are found to be in violation of any international obligations of the United States pursuant to any final ruling relating to Burma under the dispute settlement procedures of the World Trade Organization.

(Sec. 4) Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to direct any U.S. financial institution holding funds of the SPDC or the assets of individuals who hold senior positions in the SPDC or its political arm, the Union Solidarity Development Association, to report those assets to the Office of Foreign Assets Control and take such action as may be necessary to secure them.

(Sec. 5) Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. executive director to each appropriate international financial institution to oppose any extension by such institution of a loan or financial or technical assistance to Burma until the requirements of this Act are met.

(Sec. 6) Authorizes the President to deny visas and entry to the former and present leadership of the SPDC or the Union Solidarity Development Association. Requires the Secretary of State to coordinate on a biannual basis with European Union (EU) representatives to ensure that an individual banned from obtaining a visa by the EU for the reasons contained in this Act is also banned from receiving a visa from the United States.

(Sec. 7) Urges the Secretary of State to highlight the abysmal record of the SPDC to the international community and use all appropriate fora, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum and Asian Nations Regional Forum, to encourage other states to restrict financial resources to the SPDC and Burmese companies while offering political recognition and support to Burma's democratic movement, including the National League for Democracy and Burma's ethnic groups. Directs the U.S. embassy in Rangoon to take all steps necessary to provide access of information and U.S. policy decisions to media organs not under the control of the ruling military regime.

(Sec. 8) Authorizes the President to use all available resources to assist Burmese democracy activists dedicated to nonviolent opposition to the regime in their efforts to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights in Burma.

Directs the Secretary of State to report to the appropriate congressional committees on: (1) its short-and long-term programs and activities to support democracy activists in Burma, including a list of constraints on such programming; (2) resources that will be necessary for the reconstruction of Burma after the SPDC is removed from power; and (3) the effectiveness of the import restrictions in promoting human rights and democracy in Burma.

(Sec. 9) Authorizes the President to terminate the import restrictions in this Act upon the request of a democratically elected government in Burma, provided all the conditions contained in this Act have been met. States that the import restrictions of this Act shall expire one year after enactment of this Act, unless renewed by Congress with a joint resolution meeting certain requirements. Allows annual renewals of such restrictions by enactment of a similar joint resolution.