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H.R. 2061: North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017

H.R. 2061 reauthorizes human rights and democracy programs under the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 until 2022. Specifically, the bill authorizes the appropriation of $10 million each year over the 2018—2022 period. These programs promote human rights, democracy, and freedom of information in North Korea, as well as provide humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees. The bill requires reports to Congress on the implementation of these programs, including a report by the State Department’s Special Envoy on North Korea. The bill also updates freedom of information authorities under the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 to reflect technological advances to include media beyond radio broadcasting, and requires an annual report for 5 years on the implementation of a plan to increase availability and consumption of uncensored news and information inside North Korea.

Last updated Oct 3, 2017. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Sep 25, 2017.

North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017

(Sec. 3) This bill expresses the sense of Congress concerning access to and protection of North Korean refugees and defectors, the forcible repatriation by China of North Koreans, and the Department of State position of Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues.

(Sec. 4) The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 is amended to reauthorize through FY2022: (1) programs that promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the development of a market economy in North Korea; (2) actions to promote freedom of information in North Korea; and (3) humanitarian assistance to North Koreans who are outside of North Korea without the government's permission.

The bill extends through 2022 the requirements for annual reports from: (1) the State Department on freedom of information inside North Korea, (2) the Special Envoy on North Korean human rights issues, (3) the U.S. Agency for International Development on U.S. humanitarian assistance activities both inside North Korea and for North Koreans outside of North Korea, and (4) the State Department and Department of Homeland Security on North Korean refugees and immigration.

(Sec. 5) The President may provide electronic information sharing media to increase the availability of nongovernment-controlled information inside North Korea.

The President may: (1) provide grants to distribute information receiving devices, electronically readable devices, and other informational sources into North Korea; and (2) establish a grant program to develop or distribute new products or methods to allow North Koreans easier access to outside information.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors: (1) may broadcast popular music, television, movies, and popular cultural references as part of its programming; and (2) shall broadcast in Korean to North Korea information on rights, laws, and freedoms afforded through the North Korean Constitution and applicable treaties or international agreements.

The State Department shall: (1) submit a plan to Congress for reaching additional audiences and increasing consumption of uncensored news and information; and (2) report annually on the effectiveness of actions taken pursuant to these information dissemination requirements, including data reflecting audience and listenership, device distribution and usage, and technological development and advancement usage.

(Sec. 7) The board shall report to Congress regarding: (1) the status of current U.S. broadcasting to North Korea and the extent to which it has achieved the goal of 12-hour-per-day broadcasting, and (2) a strategy to overcome obstacles to communication with the North Korean people.

(Sec. 8) The State Department shall report to Congress regarding efforts to: (1) resume the repatriation from North Korea of U.S. Armed Forces members missing or unaccounted for during the Korean War, (2) reunite Korean Americans with their relatives in North Korea, and (3) assess the security risks to U.S. citizens posed by travel to North Korea.