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S. 653 (113th): Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2014

The text of the bill below is as of Mar 22, 2013 (Introduced).

II

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 653

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 22, 2013

(for himself,Mr. Levin, andMr. Blumenthal) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to theCommittee on Foreign Relations

A BILL

To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2013 .

2.

Special envoy To promote religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia

(a)

Appointment

The President may appoint a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia (in this Act referred to as theSpecial Envoy) within theDepartment of State. The Special Envoy shall have the rank of ambassador and shall hold the office at the pleasure of thePresident.

(b)

Qualifications

The Special Envoy should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of human rights and religious freedom and with expertise in the Near East and South Central Asia.

3.

Duties

(a)

In general

The Special Envoy shall carry out the following duties:

(1)

Promote the right of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia, denounce the violation of such right, and recommend appropriate responses by the United States Government when such right is violated.

(2)

Monitor and combat acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeted against religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

(3)

Work to ensure that the unique needs of religious minority communities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia are addressed, including the economic and security needs of such communities.

(4)

Work with foreign governments of the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia to address laws that are discriminatory toward religious minority communities in such countries.

(5)

Coordinate and assist in the preparation of that portion of the report required bysections 116(d)and502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961(22 U.S.C. 2151n(d)and2304(b)) relating to the nature and extent of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

(6)

Coordinate and assist in the preparation of that portion of the report required by section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998(22 U.S.C. 6412(b))relating to the nature and extent of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

(b)

Coordination

In carrying out the duties undersubsection (a), the Special Envoy shall, to the maximum extent practicable, coordinate with theAssistant Secretary of Statefor Population, Refugees and Migration, the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, theUnited States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and other relevant Federal agencies and officials.

4.

Diplomatic representation

Subject to the direction of thePresidentand theSecretary of State, the Special Envoy is authorized to represent the United States in matters and cases relevant to religious freedom in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia in—

(1)

contacts with foreign governments, intergovernmental organizations, andspecialized agencies of the United Nations, theOrganization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international organizations of which the United States is a member; and

(2)

multilateral conferences and meetings relevant to religious freedom in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

5.

Consultations

The Special Envoy shall consult with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations and multilateral organizations and institutions, as the Special Envoy considers appropriate to fulfill the purposes of this Act.

6.

Funding

Of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available to theSecretary of StateforDiplomatic and Consular Programsfor fiscal years 2013 through 2017, theSecretary of Stateis authorized to provide to the Special Envoy$1,000,000 for each such fiscal year for the hiring of staff, the conduct of investigations, and necessary travel to carry out the provisions ofthis Act .