< Back to S. 2362 (103rd Congress, 1993–1994)

Text of the Comprehensive Torture Victims Relief Act

This bill was introduced on August 4, 1994, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Aug 4, 1994 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

S 2362 IS

103d CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2362

To provide a comprehensive program of support for the victims of torture.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

August 4 (legislative day, JULY 20), 1994

Mr. DURENBERGER (for himself, Mr. HARKIN, and Mr. WELLSTONE) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To provide a comprehensive program of support for the victims of torture.

    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 ‘Comprehensive Torture Victims Relief Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress makes the following findings:

      (1) The American people abhor torture and the use of atrocities by repressive governments. The existence of torture creates a climate of fear and international insecurity that affects all people.

      (2) Torture is the strategic use of pain to destroy both individuals and society. The effects of torture are long term. Those effects can last a lifetime for the survivors and affect future generations.

      (3) By eliminating leadership of their opposition and frightening the general public, repressive governments use torture as a weapon against democracy.

      (4) Torture victims remain under physical and psychological threats, especially in communities where the perpetrators are not brought to justice. In many nations, even those who treat torture victims are threatened with reprisals, including torture, for carrying out their ethical duties to provide care. Both the survivors of torture and their treatment providers deserve, and often require, protection from further repression.

      (5) A significant number of refugees and asylees entering the United States have been victims of governmental torture. Those claiming asylum deserve prompt consideration of the applications for political asylum to minimize their insecurity and sense of danger. Many torture survivors now live in the United States. They should be provided with the rehabilitation services which would enable them to become productive members of our communities.

      (6) Building democratic cultures requires not only legal and political institution-building, but also addressing the physical, psychological, and spiritual damage of repression, in order to foster a climate and opportunity of healing for the victims and for society.

      (7) The development of a treatment movement for torture survivors has created new opportunities for action by the United States and other nations to oppose state-sponsored acts of torture.

      (8) There is a need for a comprehensive strategy to protect and support torture victims and their treatment providers as part of the overall objective of eliminating torture.

      (9) By acting to heal the survivors of torture and protect their families, the United States can move to defeat the actions of torturers.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    As used in this Act:

      (1) ASYLEE- The term ‘asylee’ is used within the meaning of section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

      (2) REFUGEE- The term ‘refugee’ has the same meaning given to the term in section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

      (3) SPECIAL INQUIRY OFFICER- The term ‘special inquiry officer’ is used within the meaning of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

      (4) TORTURE- The term ‘torture’ has the same meaning given to the term in section 2340(1) of title 18, United States Code, and includes the use of rape by a person acting under the color of law upon another person under his custody or physical control.

SEC. 4. IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES FOR TORTURE VICTIMS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Any alien--

      (1) who presents a credible claim of having been subjected to torture in his or her country of nationality, or, in the case of an alien having no nationality, the country in which the alien last habitually resided, and

      (2) who applies for--

        (A) refugee status under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act,

        (B) asylum under section 208 of that Act, or

        (C) withholding of deportation under section 243(h) of that Act,

    shall be processed in accordance with this section.

    (b) CONSIDERATION OF THE EFFECTS OF TORTURE- In considering applications for refugee status, asylum, or withholding of deportation made by aliens described in subsection (a), the appropriate officials shall take into account--

      (1) the manner in which the effects of torture can affect the applicant’s responses in the application and in the interview process or other immigration proceedings, as the case may be;

      (2) the difficulties torture victims often have in recounting their suffering under torture; and

      (3) the fear victims have of returning to their country of nationality where, even if torture is no longer practiced or the incidence of torture is reduced, their torturers may have gone unpunished and may remain in positions of authority.

    (c) EXPEDITED PROCESSING OF REFUGEE ADMISSIONS- For purposes of section 207(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a refugee who presents a credible claim of having been subjected to torture shall be considered to be a refugee of special humanitarian concern to the United States and shall be accorded priority in selection from the waiting list of such refugees based on compelling humanitarian concerns.

    (d) EXPEDITED PROCESSING FOR ASYLUM AND WITHHOLDING OF DEPORTATION- Upon the request of the alien, the alien’s counsel, or a health care professional treating the alien, an asylum officer or special inquiry officer may expedite the scheduling of an asylum interview or an exclusion or deportation proceeding for an alien described in subsection (a), if such officer determines that an undue delay in making a determination regarding asylum or withholding of deportation with respect to the alien would aggravate the physical or psychological effects of torture upon the alien.

    (e) PAROLE IN LIEU OF DETENTION- Any alien described in subsection (a) who, upon inspection at a port of entry of the United States, is found to suffer from the effects of torture, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, shall, in lieu of detention, be granted parole under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    (f) SENSE OF CONGRESS- It is the sense of Congress that the Attorney General shall allocate resources sufficient to maintain in the Resource Information Center of the Immigration and Naturalization Service information relating to the use of torture in foreign countries.

SEC. 5. SPECIALIZED TRAINING FOR CONSULAR, IMMIGRATION, AND ASYLUM PERSONNEL.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Attorney General shall provide training for immigration inspectors and examiners, immigration officers, asylum officers, special inquiry officers, and all other relevant officials of the Department of Justice, and the Secretary of State shall provide training for consular officers, with respect to--

      (1) the identification of the evidence of torture;

      (2) the identification of the surrounding circumstances in which torture is practiced;

      (3) the long-term effects of torture upon the individual;

      (4) the identification of the physical, cognitive, and emotional effects of torture, including depressive and anxiety disorders, and the manner in which these effects can affect the interview or hearing process; and

      (5) the manner of interviewing victims of torture so as not to retraumatize them, eliciting the necessary information to document the torture experience, and understanding the difficulties victims often have in recounting their torture experience.

    (b) GENDER-RELATED CONSIDERATIONS- In conducting training under subsection (a)(4) or subsection (a)(5), gender specific training shall be provided on the subject of interacting with women and men who are victims of torture by rape or any other form of sexual violence.

SEC. 6. STUDY AND REPORT ON TORTURE VICTIMS IN THE UNITED STATES.

    (a) STUDY- The Center for Disease Control shall conduct a study with respect to refugees and asylees admitted to the United States since October 1, 1987, who were tortured abroad, for the purpose of identifying--

      (1) the estimated number and geographic distribution of such persons;

      (2) the needs of such persons for recovery services; and

      (3) the availability of such services.

    (b) REPORT- Not later than December 31, 1997, the Center for Disease Control shall submit a report to the Judiciary Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate setting forth the findings of the study conducted under subsection (a), together with any recommendation for increasing the services available to persons described in subsection (a), including any recommendation for legislation, if necessary.

SEC. 7. DOMESTIC TREATMENT CENTERS.

    (a) AMENDMENT OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT- Section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1522) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    ‘(g) ASSISTANCE FOR TREATMENT OF TORTURE VICTIMS- (1) The Director is authorized to provide grants to eligible programs to cover the cost of services described in paragraph (3) for aliens who entered the United States since October 1, 1987.

    ‘(2) Programs eligible for assistance under this subsection are programs in the United States which are carrying out services described in paragraph (3).

    ‘(3) The services described in paragraph (1) are--

      ‘(A) services for the rehabilitation of victims of torture, including treatment of the physical and psychological effects of torture;

      ‘(B) social services for victims of torture; and

      ‘(C) research and training for health care providers outside of treatment centers for the purpose of enabling such providers to provide the services described in subparagraph (A).

    ‘(4) For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘torture’ has the same meaning given to the term in section 3(4) of the Comprehensive Torture Victims Relief Act.’.

    (b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- (1) Of amounts authorized to be appropriated to carry out section 414 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1524) for fiscal year 1995, there are authorized to be appropriated $20,000,000 for that fiscal year to carry out section 412(g) of that Act (relating to assistance for domestic centers for the treatment of victims of torture).

    (2) Amounts appropriated pursuant to this subsection are authorized to remain available until expended.

    (c) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect on October 1, 1994.

SEC. 8. FOREIGN TREATMENT CENTERS.

    (a) AMENDMENTS OF THE FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961- Part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 is amended by adding at the end of chapter 1 the following new section:

    ‘SEC. 129. ASSISTANCE FOR VICTIMS OF TORTURE- (a) The President is authorized to provide assistance for the rehabilitation of victims of torture.

    ‘(b) Such assistance shall be provided in the form of grants to treatment centers in foreign countries which are carrying out programs specifically designed to treat victims of torture for the physical and psychological effect of the torture.

    ‘(c) Such assistance shall be available--

      ‘(1) for direct services to victims of torture; and

      ‘(2) to provide research and training to health care providers outside of treatment centers for the purpose of enabling such providers to provide the services described in paragraph (1).

    ‘(d) For purposes of this section, the term ‘torture’ has the same meaning given to such term in section 3(4) of the Comprehensive Torture Victims Relief Act.’.

    (b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- (1) Of the total amount authorized to be appropriated to carry out chapter 1 of part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 for fiscal year 1995, there are authorized to be appropriated to the President $20,000,000 to carry out section 129 of that Act for that fiscal year.

    (2) Amounts appropriated pursuant to this subsection are authorized to remain available until expended.

    (c) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect on October 1, 1994.

SEC. 9. MULTILATERAL ASSISTANCE.

    (a) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated to carry out section 301 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (relating to international organizations and programs), there are authorized to be appropriated to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (in this section referred to as the ‘Fund’) the following amounts for the following fiscal years:

      (1) For fiscal year 1995, $5,000,000.

      (2) For fiscal year 1996, $6,000,000.

      (3) For fiscal year 1997, $7,000,000.

      (4) For fiscal year 1998, $8,000,000.

    (b) AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS- Amounts appropriated pursuant to subsection (a) are authorized to remain available until expended.

    (c) SENSE OF CONGRESS- It is the sense of the Congress that the President, acting through the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, should--

      (1) request the Fund--

        (A) to find new ways to support and protect treatment centers that are carrying out rehabilitative services for victims of torture; and

        (B) to encourage the development of new such centers;

      (2) use the voice and vote of the United States to support the work of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Committee Against Torture established under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and

      (3) use the voice and vote of the United States to establish a country rapporteur or similar procedural mechanism to investigate human rights violations in a country if either the Special Rapporteur or the Committee Against Torture indicates that a systematic practice of torture is prevalent in that country.