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Text of the Justice for the American Diplomats Held Hostage in Tehran Act

This bill was introduced on February 28, 2013, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Feb 28, 2013 (Introduced).

I

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 904

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 28, 2013

(for himself and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, 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 establish a common fund to pay claims to the Americans held hostage in Iran, and to members of their families, who are identified as class members in case number 1:08–CV–00487 (EGS) of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Justice for the American Diplomats Held Hostage in Tehran Act .

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

In 1979, agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran, taking American military and diplomatic personnel hostage.

(2)

The Iranian Government then held United States Embassy personnel as hostages for 444 days, subjecting them to profound physical and mental abuse, and forcing the United States to negotiate their release, under duress.

(3)

In the resultant agreement (commonly known as the Algiers Accords) the United States agreed, among other steps, to bar and preclude the hostages from prosecuting any claim against Iran in United States courts.

(4)

The Algiers Accords were never submitted to Congress for ratification and none of the hostages or their family members was consulted by the United States Government or consented to these provisions precluding prosecution of their claims.

(5)

Notwithstanding the applicability of legal principles which allowed the United States to renounce this obligation to bar and preclude the prosecution of claims in United States courts because they were so clearly negotiated under duress, the United States Government has repeatedly intervened in United States courts to preclude the prosecution of any claim by the hostages against Iran, arguing that, in its opinion, compliance with this agreement served overriding national security interests which justified the taking of the hostages’ right to pursue compensation from Iran in United States courts.

(6)

The United States Government has failed to propose any process by which the hostages and their family members could be compensated for the injuries and damages suffered by them by reason of the horrific and heinous treatment while in captivity.

(7)

Congress has determined that the provision of compensation to the hostages and their families through, among other sources, funds obtained by vesting and liquidating property in which Iran and its surrogates claim an interest (including any funds held by the United States, including in trust) is fully consistent with the Algiers Accords.

(8)

Congress has determined that, only upon the payment of such compensation, should the agreement by the United States Government to bar and preclude prosecution of such claims in United States courts be confirmed and ratified by legislation, notwithstanding the duress under which the United States originally negotiated that agreement.

3.

Justice for former American hostages in Iran

(a)

Common fund for hostages

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall establish a common fund to be administered by the class representatives and agents for the former American hostages in Iran and their survivors (as identified in case number 1:08–CV–00487 (EGS) of the United District Court for the District of Columbia). Such common fund shall—

(1)

be administered to pay claims to the Americans held hostage in Iran, and to members of their families, who are identified as class members in case number 1:08–CV–00487 (EGS) of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia; and

(2)

be administered for purposes of satisfying such claims, as approved by the class representatives and agents identified in that case number.

(b)

Funding

(1)

Sources

(A)

Fines and penalties

(i)

In general

The President shall pay to the fund under subsection (a) an amount equal to 50 percent of all amounts collected as fines and penalties by reason of the application of clause (ii) on or after the date of enactment of this Act. The total amount of payments that may be made into the fund under this clause may not exceed the estimated total amount of payments to be made under subsection (d).

(ii)

Fines and penalties

The maximum fines and penalties authorized to be imposed, in whole or in part, for violations of any conduct or activities with respect to any government or person by reason of their connection with or sponsorship by Iran are hereby increased by 100 percent.

(B)

Seized or frozen assets

The President is authorized to pay to the fund under subsection (a)

(i)

any funds or property in which Iran has an interest, and

(ii)

any funds or property in which any person or entity subject to any law providing for sanctions against Iran by reason of such person’s or entity’s relationship to or connection with Iran has an interest,

held by the United States (including in the form of a trust) or subject to any prohibition or regulation with respect to any financial transactions in connection therewith. The President is authorized to vest and liquidate any property identified in this subparagraph in order to make payment as provided in this subparagraph.
(2)

Timing of funding

Payments of claims from the fund under subsection (a)

(A)

using funds held by the United States or funds that become subject to prohibition or regulation as of the date of enactment of this Act shall be made not later than 60 days of the date of enactment of this Act; and

(B)

using funds which come into the possession of the United States or funds that become subject to prohibition or regulation after the date of enactment of this Act shall be paid not later than 60 days after coming into the possession of the United States or funds that become subject to prohibition or regulation, as the case may be.

(3)

Satisfaction of claims

Payments to the fund under subsection (a) shall be made until the amounts described in subsection (d) are satisfied in full. If the President determines that the amounts can be fully satisfied within 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act from funds other than those held by the United States as trustee, the President may defer payment of funds held by the United States as trustee until one year after such date of enactment, but shall ensure during such 1-year period of deferral that any such funds held by the United States as trustee shall not be disbursed, transferred or otherwise constrained for payment as otherwise may be required under this Act.

(c)

Distribution of funds

(1)

In general

Funds paid to the fund under subsection (b) shall be distributed by the class representatives and agents to the former American hostages in Iran and their survivors (as identified in case number 1:08–CV–00487 (EGS) of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia) in the amounts described in subsection (d).

(2)

Priority

Subject to subsection (d), payments from funds paid to the fund under subsection (b) shall be distributed as follows:

(A)

First, to each living former hostage identified as a class member under subsection (a)(1).

(B)

Second, to the estate of each deceased former hostage identified as a class member under subsection (a)(1).

(C)

Third, to each spouse or child of a former hostage identified as a class member under subsection (a)(1) if the spouse or child is identified as a class member under subsection (a)(1).

(d)

Amount of payments

The amount of payments from funds paid to the fund under subsection (b) shall be distributed as follows:

(1)

For each former hostage described in subsection (c)(2)(A), $10,000 for each day of captivity of the former hostage.

(2)

For the estate of each deceased former hostage described in subsection (c)(2)(B), $10,000 for each day of captivity of the former hostage.

(3)

For each spouse or child of a former hostage described in subsection (c)(2)(C), $5,000 for each day of captivity of the former hostage.

(e)

Subrogation

The United States shall be fully subrogated, with respect to payments under this Act, to all rights of each individual paid under subsection (d) against the Government of Iran or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or its affiliates or agents. The President shall pursue these subrogated rights as claims or offsets of the United States in appropriate ways until such subrogated claims have been resolved to the satisfaction of the United States.

(f)

Preclusion of Suit and Waiver of Claims

Upon payment of all amounts described in subsection (d), each person receiving such payment shall be precluded from bringing suit against Iran of any claim arising out of events occurring between November 3, 1979, and January 20, 1981, and all such claims as against Iran shall be deemed waived and forever released.

(g)

Reimbursement of seized or frozen assets

Upon payment of all amounts described in subsection (d), the President is authorized to make payments from amounts paid to the fund under subsection (b)(1)(A) to any person or entity described in subsection (b)(1)(B) for purposes of reimbursing such person or entity for funds or property of such person or entity held by the United States as identified in subsection (b)(1)(B).

(h)

Deposit of funds in the Treasury

Any amounts in the fund under subsection (a) which remain after the date on which payments of all amounts described in subsection (d) are made, or the date that is 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, whichever occurs later, shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States.