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H.R. 1856 (112th): International Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 2011

The text of the bill below is as of May 11, 2011 (Introduced).


I

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1856

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 11, 2011

(for himself and Mr. Smith of New Jersey) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Financial Services and Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to strengthen the promotion of religious freedom in United States foreign policy and to reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title and table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the International Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 2011.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title and table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings; policy.

Sec. 3. Definitions.

Title I—Department of State activities

Sec. 101. Office of International Religious Freedom; Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

Sec. 102. Reports.

Sec. 103. Training for Foreign Service officers.

Sec. 104. Programs and allocations of funds by United States missions abroad.

Sec. 105. Prisoner lists and issue briefs on religious freedom concerns.

Sec. 106. Interagency report.

Title II—Commission on International Religious Freedom

Sec. 201. Establishment and composition.

Sec. 202. Commission personnel matters.

Sec. 203. Report of the Commission.

Sec. 204. Authorization of appropriations.

Sec. 205. Standards of conduct and disclosure.

Sec. 206. Termination.

Title III—Presidential actions

Sec. 301. Presidential actions in response to violations of religious freedom.

Sec. 302. Presidential actions in response to particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

Sec. 303. Consultations.

Sec. 304. Presidential waiver.

Sec. 305. Termination of Presidential actions.

Title IV—Promotion of religious freedom

Sec. 401. Assistance for promoting religious freedom.

Title V—Miscellaneous provisions

Sec. 501. Report on effectiveness of programs to promote religious freedom.

2.

Findings; policy

(a)

Findings

Section 2(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6401(a)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (3), by adding at the end the following: Both America’s history and the experience of other countries demonstrate that the vigorous protection of religious freedom is necessary for democracy to endure, and to yield its social, economic, political, intellectual, and religious benefits to all its citizens. Contemporary scholarship also demonstrates that the absence of religious freedom in a country is causally related not only to the persecution of religious minorities, but also to religious conflict, violence, extremism, and terrorism, including the kind of terrorism that has reached the American homeland.;

(2)

in paragraph (4), by striking one-half and inserting two-thirds;

(3)

in paragraph (5), by striking religious persecution and inserting persecution; and

(4)

by striking paragraph (7).

(b)

Policy

Section 2(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6401(b)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by inserting and nongovernmental organizations after other governments;

(2)

in paragraph (2), by inserting and nongovernmental organizations after governments;

(3)

in paragraph (4), by inserting and nongovernmental organizations after foreign governments; and

(4)

in paragraph (5), by inserting as well as foreign assistance and other programs funded by the United States Government, after cultural channels,.

3.

Definitions

Section 3(3)(A) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6402) is amended by striking Committee on International Relations and inserting Committee on Foreign Affairs.

I

Department of State activities

101.

Office of International Religious Freedom; Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

(a)

Establishment of Office

Section 101(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6411(a)) is amended—

(1)

by striking within the Department of State and inserting , in the Office of the Secretary of State,; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following: The Ambassador at Large shall report directly to the Secretary of State..

(b)

Duties

Section 101(c) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6411(c)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)—

(A)

by striking responsibility and inserting responsibilities;

(B)

by striking shall be to advance and inserting the following:

shall be—

(A)

to advance

;

(C)

by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(D)

by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(B)

to integrate United States international religious freedom policies and religious engagement programs into democracy and civil society programs funded by the United States and into the counterterrorism policies of United States Government departments and agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of the Treasury.

;

(2)

in paragraph (2), by striking a principal advisor and inserting the principal advisor;

(3)

in paragraph (3)—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by striking and at the end;

(B)

in subparagraph (B), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(C)

contacts with nongovernmental organizations that have an impact on the state of religious freedom in their respective societies or regions, or internationally.

;

(4)

by redesignating paragraph (4) as paragraph (5); and

(5)

by inserting after paragraph (3) the following new paragraph:

(4)

Coordination responsibilities

The Ambassador at Large shall seek to coordinate all programs, projects, and activities of the United States Government to promote religious freedom and religious engagement abroad, including programs, projects, and activities of the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the United States Agency for International Development.

.

(c)

Funding

Section 101(d) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6411(d)) is amended to read as follows:

(d)

Funding

The Secretary of State shall provide the Ambassador at Large with such funds as may be necessary for the hiring of individuals to fill at least 15 full-time-equivalent staff positions, including a senior advisor, for the Office, for the conduct of investigations by the Office, and for necessary travel to carry out the provisions of this section. The Secretary of State shall also provide the Ambassador at Large with representational funds equal to that of other Ambassadors at Large in the Department of State.

.

102.

Reports

(a)

Status of religious freedom

Section 102(b)(1) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)(1)) is amended in the matter preceding subparagraph (A)—

(1)

in the first sentence, by striking September and inserting May; and

(2)

by inserting after the first sentence the following: Each Annual Report shall be independent and distinct from the most recent Human Rights Reports and shall be made available to the public in such a manner..

(b)

Violations of religious freedom

Section 102(b)(1)(B) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)(1)(B)) is amended in the matter preceding clause (i) by inserting whether in matters of private belief and practice or the peaceful involvement of such groups or members in the political life of a nation, after including policies that discriminate against particular religious groups or members of such groups,.

(c)

United States policies

Section 102(b)(1)(C) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)(1)(C)) is amended—

(1)

by striking A description and inserting A comprehensive description;

(2)

by striking policies in support and inserting religious engagement policies in support;

(3)

by inserting with respect to each such foreign country after including a description; and

(4)

by striking the period at the end and inserting the following: , and an analysis of the impact of actions by the United States on the status of religious freedom in each country. This section of the report should be country-specific and comprehensive, and should avoid insofar as possible the repetition of standard phrases and sentences to be employed in every country report..

103.

Training for Foreign Service officers

(a)

In general

Section 708(a) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 4028(a)) is amended—

(1)

by striking The Secretary of State and inserting (1) The Secretary of State;

(2)

in paragraph (1) (as added by paragraph (1) of this subsection)—

(A)

by striking other relevant officials, such as and inserting relevant officials, including; and

(B)

by inserting the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom established under section 201(a) of such Act, after 1998,

(3)

by redesignating the subsequent paragraphs (1) through (3) as subparagraphs (A) through (C), respectively; and

(4)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(2)

Such training shall, at a minimum, be a separate, independent, and required segment of each of the following:

(A)

The A–100 course attended by all Foreign Service Officers.

(B)

The courses required of every Foreign Service Officer prior to a posting abroad, each segment to be tailored to the religious demography, status of religious freedom, and United States strategies for advancing religious freedom, in the receiving country.

(C)

The courses required of all deputy chiefs of mission and all chiefs of mission.

.

(b)

Report

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, with the assistance of the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom appointed under section 101(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6411(b)) and the Director of the George P. Schultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center and in consultation with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom established under section 201(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6431(a)), shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a comprehensive plan for administering training for Foreign Service officers required under section 708 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 4028), as amended by subsection (a).

104.

Programs and allocations of funds by United States missions abroad

Section 106 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6415) is amended—

(1)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking It is the sense of Congress and inserting It is the policy of the United States; and

(2)

in paragraphs (1) and (2), by striking should each place it appears and inserting shall.

105.

Prisoner lists and issue briefs on religious freedom concerns

(a)

Increased advocacy

Section 108(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6417(a)) is amended—

(1)

in the heading, by striking sense of congress and inserting increased advocacy;

(2)

by striking it is the sense of Congress that; and

(3)

by striking should promote and inserting shall promote.

(b)

Availability of information

Section 108(c) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6417(c)) is amended by striking , as appropriate,.

106.

Interagency report

(a)

In general

The Secretary of State, in coordination with the heads of other relevant United States Government departments and agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the United States Agency for International Development, shall submit to Congress a report on the best uses of United States foreign assistance to promote religious freedom and religious engagement abroad.

(b)

Timing

The report required under subsection (a) shall be issued not later than 6 months after the date on which the first report required under section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)) is transmitted to Congress after the date of the enactment of this Act.

II

Commission on International Religious Freedom

201.

Establishment and composition

(a)

Membership

Section 201(b)(1)(B) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6431(b)(1)(B)) is amended—

(1)

in the matter preceding clause (i), by striking Nine and inserting nine;

(2)

in clause (ii), by striking President pro tempore and inserting leadership; and

(3)

in clause (iii), by striking Speaker and inserting leadership.

(b)

Terms

Section 201(c) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6431(c)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)—

(A)

in the second sentence, by striking to a second term; and

(B)

by striking the third and fourth sentences;

(2)

in paragraph (2)—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by striking during the period May 15, 2003, through May 14, 2005,;

(B)

in subparagraph (C)—

(i)

in the heading, by striking president pro tempore; and

(ii)

by striking President pro tempore each place it appears and inserting leadership;

(C)

in subparagraph (D)—

(i)

in the heading, by striking speaker; and

(ii)

by striking Speaker each place it appears and inserting leadership; and

(D)

in subparagraph (E)—

(i)

by striking 2003 and inserting 2012; and

(ii)

by striking 2004 and inserting 2013; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)

Ineligibility for Reappointment

If a member of the Commission attends, by being physically present or by conference call, less than 75 percent of the meetings of the Commission during the member’s terms on the Commission, the member shall not be eligible for reappointment to the Commission.

.

(c)

Election of Chair and Executive Committee

Section 201(d) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6431(d)) is amended—

(1)

in the heading, by inserting and executive committee after chair;

(2)

by striking At and inserting the following: (1) Chair.—At;

(3)

in paragraph (1), as designated by paragraph (2) of this subsection, by striking May 30 and inserting May 1; and

(4)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(2)

Executive committee

(A)

In general

At the first meeting of the Commission after May 1 of each calendar year, a majority of the members of the Commission present and voting shall elect the Executive Committee of the Commission.

(B)

Composition

The Executive Committee shall be composed of—

(i)

the Chair of the Commission; and

(ii)

two other members of the Commission appointed under subsection (b)(1)(B), who shall serve as Vice-Chairs of the Commission, and at least one of whom has been appointed under subsection (b)(1)(B) by an official whose political party is not the same political party as the official who appointed the member of the Commission who has been elected the Chair of the Commission.

.

(d)

Applicability

A member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom who is serving on the Commission on the date of enactment of this Act shall continue to serve on the Commission until the expiration of the current term of the member under the terms and conditions for membership on the Commission as in effect on the day before the date of the enactment of this Act.

202.

Commission personnel matters

Section 204 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6432b) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a), by striking and such other additional personnel;

(2)

in subsection (b), by striking and other personnel each place it appears; and

(3)

in subsection (c)—

(A)

by striking the first sentence and inserting the following: The Executive Director shall have the authority to hire Commission staff on the basis of professional and nonpartisan qualifications and fix their compensation as may be necessary to enable the Commission to perform its duties and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates, except that the rate of pay for such staff may not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.; and

(B)

by striking the second sentence and inserting the following: The Executive Director shall have the authority to terminate Commission staff and shall have such other authorities as necessary to ensure the effective and efficient operation of the Commission..

203.

Report of the Commission

Section 205(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6433(a)) is amended by striking May and inserting November.

204.

Authorization of appropriations

Section 207 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6435) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a), by striking $3,000,000 for the fiscal year 2003 and inserting $4,300,000 for each of the fiscal years 2012 through 2018; and

(2)

in subsection (b), by adding at the end the following: The Commission may use not more than 5 percent of funds made available to carry out this title for a fiscal year for official reception and representation to help fulfill the purposes for which the Commission was established..

205.

Standards of conduct and disclosure

Section 208 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6435a) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (c)(1), by striking , except that the Commission may not expend more than $100,000 in any fiscal year to procure such services; and

(2)

in subsection (e), by striking International Relations and inserting Foreign Affairs.

206.

Termination

Section 209 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6436) is amended by striking September 30, 2011 and inserting September 30, 2018.

III

Presidential actions

301.

Presidential actions in response to violations of religious freedom

Section 401(b)(2) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6441(b)(2)) is amended to read as follows:

(2)

Deadline for actions

Not later than 90 days after the date of the submission of the report required under section 102(b), the President shall take action under any of paragraphs (1) through (15) of section 405(a) (or commensurate action in substitution thereto) with respect to each foreign country the government of which has engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom at any time since the date of submission of the report required under section 102(b) for the preceding year, except that in the case of action under any of paragraphs (9) through (15) of section 405(a) (or commensurate action in substitution thereto) the action may only be taken after the President makes a determination that the requirements of sections 403 and 404 have been satisfied.

.

302.

Presidential actions in response to particularly severe violations of religious freedom

(a)

Designations of countries of particular concern for religious freedom

Section 402(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6442(b)) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)—

(A)

in subparagraph (A)—

(i)

by striking Not later than September 1 of each year and inserting Not later than 90 days after the submission of the report required under section 102(b); and

(ii)

by striking or since the date and all that follows through The President and inserting and; and

(B)

in subparagraph (C), by striking September 1 of the respective year and inserting the date of submission of the report required under section 102(b);

(2)

in paragraph (3)—

(A)

by striking Whenever and inserting the following:

(A)

In general

Whenever

;

(B)

by striking as soon as practicable and inserting not later than 120 days;

(C)

by redesignating the subsequent subparagraphs (A) and (B) as clauses (i) and (ii), respectively, and moving the margins of such clauses 2 ems to the right;

(D)

in clause (i), by striking and at the end;

(E)

in clause (ii), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(F)

by adding at the end the following new clause:

(iii)

the actions taken, the purposes of the actions taken, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the actions taken.

; and

(G)

by adding at the end the following new subparagraphs:

(B)

Countries recommended by the Commission

If the President does not designate a country as a country of particular concern for religious freedom under paragraph (1)(A) that the Commission has recommended be so designated, the President shall submit to Congress a report that contains the reasons therefor.

(C)

Removal of designation

A country that is designated as a country of particular concern for religious freedom under paragraph (1)(A) shall retain such designation until the President determines and reports to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate that the country should no longer be so designated.

.

(b)

Presidential Actions With Respect to Countries of Particular Concern for Religious Freedom

Section 402(c)(5) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6442(c)(5)) is amended—

(1)

in the second sentence, by adding at the end before the period the following: and include a description of the impact of the designation of such sanction or sanctions; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following: The President shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report explaining why the decision was made that one or more of such sanctions also satisfy the requirements of this subsection..

303.

Consultations

Section 403(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6443(a)) is amended by striking As soon as practicable and inserting Not later than 90 days.

304.

Presidential waiver

Section 407 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6447) is amended by inserting for a 180-day period after may waive.

305.

Termination of Presidential actions

Section 409 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6449) is amended by striking on the earlier of and all that follows through Upon and inserting upon.

IV

Promotion of religious freedom

401.

Assistance for promoting religious freedom

Section 501 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 2151n note) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(c)

Availability of amounts

Of the amounts made available for the Human Rights and Democracy Fund for fiscal years 2012 through 2018, the Secretary of State shall provide to the Office not less than 5 percent of such amounts for each such fiscal year for the promotion of international religious freedom through groups that are able to develop legal protections and promote cultural and societal understanding of international norms of religious freedom.

.

V

Miscellaneous provisions

501.

Report on effectiveness of programs to promote religious freedom

(a)

In general

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the implementation of this Act and the amendments made by this Act.

(b)

Consultation

The Comptroller General shall consult with the appropriate congressional committees and nongovernmental organizations for purposes of preparing the report.

(c)

Matters To be included

The report shall include the following:

(1)

A review of the effectiveness of all United States Government programs to promote international religious freedom, including their goals and objectives.

(2)

An assessment of the roles and functions of the Office on International Religious Freedom established in section 101(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6411(a)) and the relationship of the Office to other offices in the Department of State.

(3)

A review of the role of the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom appointed under section 101(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6411(b)) and the placement of such position within the Department of State.

(4)

A review and assessment of the goals and objectives of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom established under section 201(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6431(a)).

(5)

A comparative analysis of the structure of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as an independent non-partisan entity in relation to other United States advisory commissions, whether or not such commissions are under the direct authority of Congress.

(6)

A review of the relationship between the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and possible reforms that would improve the ability of both to reach their goals and objectives.

(d)

Definition

In this section, the term appropriate congressional committees has the meaning given the term in section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6402).