SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC44976 CC
FREEDOM FROM RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION ACT OF 1997, PART IADMINISTRATION WITNESSES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
SEPTEMBER 9, 1997
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York, Chairman
WILLIAM GOODLING, Pennsylvania
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
JAY KIM, California
STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio
MARSHALL ''MARK'' SANFORD, South Carolina
MATT SALMON, Arizona
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
TOM CAMPBELL, California
JON FOX, Pennsylvania
JOHN McHUGH, New York
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
LEE HAMILTON, Indiana
SAM GEJDENSON, Connecticut
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD BERMAN, California
GARY ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT ANDREWS, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
PAT DANNER, Missouri
EARL HILLIARD, Alabama
WALTER CAPPS, California
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVE ROTHMAN, New Jersey
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
JIM DAVIS, Florida
RICHARD J. GARON, Chief of Staff
MICHAEL H. VAN DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff
STEPHEN RADEMAKER, Chief Counsel
PAUL BERKOWITZ, Professional Staff
KIMBERLY ROBERTS, Staff Associate
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCC O N T E N T S
The Honorable John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Department of State
The Honorable Christopher Smith
The Honorable Arlen Specter
The Honorable Doug Bereuter
The Honorable Frank Wolf
The Honorable Ted Strickland
The Honorable John Shattuck
FREEDOM FROM RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION ACT OF 1997
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1997
House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Benjamin A. Gilman (chairman of the Committee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Gilman, Hyde, Bereuter, Smith, Gallegly, Chabot, Salmon, Houghton, Campbell, Fox, Blunt, Brady, Hamilton, Lantos, Berman, Menendez, Brown, Hastings, Capps, Sherman, Clement, Luther, and Davis.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman GILMAN. The Committee will come to order. Today we begin 2 days of hearings on religious persecution around the world. In a few minutes, we'll be hearing from Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, John Shattuck, who will present the Administration's views, but first we will hear from several Members of Congress who have led the way in drawing attention to this long-ignored problem.
I want to personally commend the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Wolf, and the Senator from Pennsylvania, Mr. Specter, who have introduced the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act of 1997, which we will be marking up on Thursday of this week.
This legislation focuses long overdue attention on the issue, and promises to begin the process of remedying it. I'm proud to be an original co-sponsor. Congressman Wolf and Senator Specter are joined by Congressman Ted Strickland of Ohio, who has also provided strong leadership on this issue.
Here in the Congress, we work hard to keep the wheels of government turning. Perhaps not often enough do we have an opportunity to do genuine good for the oppressed of the world. In this case, we have the opportunity to do some important things. For that, gentlemen, you deserve our thanks.
Consider what is happening around the world. In China, the Communist Government recently sentenced a 76-year-old Protestant leader to 15 years in prison. For what crime? It was distributing Bibles.
Also in China, a 65-year-old evangelical elder was sentenced to 11 years in prison for belonging to an evangelical group not sanctioned by the government. Chinese authorities kidnapped the 6-year-old Panchen Lama, one of the holiest figures in the Tibetan Buddhist faith, along with his family. Buddhist monks who support the Panchen Lama have been tortured and imprisoned. And the list of abuses goes on.
There is an official Chinese Government policy to restrict worship, religious education, distribution of Bibles and other religious literature and religious gatherings. Indeed, in 1994, President Jiang Zemin asserted that religion constitutes one of the greatest threats to Communist Party rule.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC China is not alone in its systematic religious persecution. The world over, people of faith are finding that simply practicing their faith is cause for imprisonment, for torture, and for death in some instances.
In Sudan, soldiers have, with government sanction, systematically raped, imprisoned, enslaved, and murdered tens of thousands of Christians solely because they are Christians.
In Iran, Baha'is have been executed for apostasy. At the very least, they must fear imprisonment, loss of jobs, and systematic persecution.
In Pakistan, in February of this year, 13 churches and 15 houses were burned, as well as a hospital and a school. Seventy women were reportedly kidnapped. While this was not a government-sanctioned abuse, the government all too often ignores persecution of Christians.
In Vietnam, a U.S. citizen of Vietnamese origin was arrested for handing out Bible tapes and pens adorned with crosses. In Algeria earlier this year, seven Trappist monks had their throats slit by Islamic extremists. And in Egypt, Islamic extremists have torched Coptic villages.
The list is unending. In each case, innocent people are persecuted much worse for the simple fact of their faith. This is not exclusively a Muslim problem nor a Christian problem nor a Jewish problem. No faith is immune, and no one group is to blame.
Decent people the world over are horrified by religious persecution, and our Nation must not stand idly by and watch it continue to grow. The Freedom From Religious Persecution Act will not solve the problem, but it is certainly a first step in the right direction.
I am proud to have been a supporter of the bill. We will do all we can to see that the Committee on International Relations reports this bill promptly for consideration on the House floor.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I turn to Mr. Hamilton, the Ranking Minority Member, for any opening statement that he may have.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Chairman, I don't have an opening statement. I do want to thank you for calling the hearing, and I want to say to Representative Wolf and Senator Specter that I think they are making an important contribution here in identifying the really horrendous problem of religious persecution.
So, my thanks to them and to you for the hearing. We will have, of course, some questions for them and for those who follow them, but I think it's a very constructive and worthwhile enterprise that we're engaged in here. Nice to have both of our friends with us, and Congressman Strickland is joining them now and we're delighted to have him as well.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Hamilton.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank you for convening this very important hearing. During the last 2 years, the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, which I chair, has held a number of hearings on the subject of religious persecution. One hearing was on the persecution of Christians around the world, another on the resurgent rise of anti-semitism, and especially the privatizing of anti-semitism in the former Soviet Union.
We have heard of atrocities carried out against Buddhists in Tibet and Vietnam, Muslims in Bosnia and the Baha'i in Iran. Our witnesses have testified about the systematic and severe mistreatment, including but not limited to harassment, discrimination, imprisonment, beatings, torture, enslavement, and even violent death meted out to believers simply because they are believers. We have now heard enough. The time has come to act.
I want to extend my congratulations and my gratitude to Congressman Frank Wolf, a hero of the human rights movement for the Freedom From Religious Persecution Act, and also to Senator Specter, for his great leadership on this bill and on the issue of religious freedom.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I've traveled with Frank to a number of places, like Perm 35 in the former Soviet Union, to Beijing Prison Number 1, and I've always been deeply impressed and inspired by his commitment to the least of our brethren when people are being persecuted, especially religious believers.
This bill comes to us at a time when we Americans need to be reminded that the victims of oppression around the world are our brothers and sisters.
In this age when human rights are always in danger of subordination to other objectives, whether it be to the love of money, the fear of immigrants and refugees, or the desire to get along with governments that mistreat their own people, we need to be reminded that when people are persecuted in distant lands, it is often because they are like us and simply seek the free and unfettered exercise of their religious beliefs.
The victims we so often ignore, whether the issue is refugee protection or most favored nation (MFN) status for China, are usually the very people who share our values. We need to see their faces, we need to hear their cries, and we need to act decisively.
It is important that we review and reform our conduct of our own government toward these victims of persecution. Too often, U.S. officials have been reluctant to acknowledge the plight of persecuted believers. Religious intolerance is often trivialized, particularly in refugee law.
Most of us can remember the Pentecostals who sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Moscow during the 1980's. I remember visiting the Siberian Seven in 1982. They were unwelcome by our own Embassy. They were thought to be an ''inconvenience'', and hopefully those times have ended.
The so-called ''comprehensive plan of action'' for Southeast Asian asylum seekers has returned thousands of Christians and Buddhists, including priests, nuns, ministers, and seminarians, to Vietnam after they were callously labeled ''economic migrants''. And applications for asylum or refugee status from religious dissidents who have managed to escape from Islamic extremist regimes have typically been rejected despite Draconian punishments often administered against them.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This is an issue, ladies and gentlemen, that should unite liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, even internationalists and isolationists. Whatever our differences, we are Americans, and there are some things that Americans simply should not tolerate.
We can build a coalition to restore the protection of these oppressed believers and of all others who are persecuted because of their religion, race, nationality, or political beliefs, and this ought to be a top priority of our foreign policy.
Again, I want to thank our very distinguished folks who are here todayArlen Specter, Ted Strickland, and Congressman Wolf. And thank you, Mr. Chairman, again, for having this hearing.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Smith. Mr. Lantos.
Mr. LANTOS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First, I want to commend you for holding this hearing. You have been one of the champions in this body in the fight against religious persecution and, indeed, human rights across the board.
I'm delighted to have an opportunity to publicly pay tribute to my friend, Congressman Frank Wolf, who over the years has been the key champion of religious freedom in this body.
Throughout the years, with Congressman Smith, I've had the pleasure both as former chairman of the Human Rights Subcommittee and as chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on the Democratic side, to work with Congressman Wolf on these issues.
And as you mentioned, Mr. Smith, the Pentecostals at our embassy in Moscow, the Baha'i and the others, as you said, bring back to memory all of the issues of religious persecution on which Congressman Wolf, you, Congressman Gilman, I, and others, have worked across the political spectrum.
I want to commend my friend for introducing this legislation which, of course, I co-sponsor and support with great enthusiasm.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Having said that, let me hasten to add that it is important for us to recognize at all times that human rights violations are not all religiously based. They are based on political views. They are based on ethnic and racial grounds, and it's extremely important that in our long-overdue desire to move on the issue of religious persecution, we do not overlook all of the other items that are related to human rights violations across this planet.
There are people who have been marked not for reasons of religious conviction, but because they were committed to democratic principles, they happen to belong to the wrong racial or ethnic minority, and I think it is extremely critical that this legislation be carefully crafted, broadly based so that all items of human rights violations will be appropriately handled by this body. I thank the Chair.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Lantos. Mr. Campbell.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also applaud my colleagues in their effort, but I do want to raise a flag of some caution.
Foreign aid in the nature of assistance to poor, starving, hungry people is probably important and worth doing even if the governments of those poor unfortunate people are abhorrent. And so sometimes we have to draw a line, if it's possible to get help to people who are in desperate need of it.
So, my concern would be on Section 7(b) and (c) of the bill. I have a few other points, that are mostly, as one might expect, lawyerly points which hopefully will help. But as to 7(b) and (c) at least, I see a question, ought we not be worried about the termination of assistance to people in need through no fault of their own because their government is engaged in wrongdoing.
I look forward to the testimony of my colleagues and the other witnesses. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Campbell. Mr. Menendez.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to first commend the authors of this legislation for their efforts to combat religious persecution around the world. Certainly the United States has a responsibility to stand up against countries which wantonly disregard the rights of religious minorities, whether we're speaking of the Greek Eastern Orthodox minority in Turkey, or Buddhists in Tibet, or Christians in the Sudan. Certainly, insufficient attention by the world community has allowed religious persecution to proliferate.
And while I'm supportive of the bill's concept, I am very concerned about the bill's immigration provisions and the impact they would have on the availability of asylum slots for persons suffering from types of persecution other than religious persecution.
There are a finite number of asylum slots available each year, particularly because of the last immigration bill. In order to qualify for asylum, an individual must be determined to have a ''credible fear of persecution''.
The way the bill, as I understand it, is currently drafted, it would mandate that any alien who claims membership in a persecuted community, as determined by the director of the monitoring office set up in this legislation, would have a credible fear of persecution. And in theory, that sounds reasonable. But in practice, it would award priority status to individuals suffering from religious persecution at the expense of those suffering from persecution because of their membership in a minority group, nationality, race, or political views.
So, I hope that the authors will explore with us the possibility of amending that section to limit the number of asylum slots available for the purpose of aliens fleeing religious persecution.
It would be tragic, I thinkand I'm sure it's not the author's intentif, in fact, we were to help one category of people fleeing persecution, which we want to help, only to deny others fleeing equally terrifying circumstances for reasons of their race or political beliefs.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We look forward to listening to the author's statements.
Mr. SMITH. Would my friend yield
Mr. MENENDEZ. I'd be happy to yield to my colleague from New Jersey.
Mr. SMITH [continuing]. Just to suggest that there is no finite number when it comes to asylum. There is no limit on the asylum. As a matter of fact, the only thing that this bill would allow is, credible fear would get you a full interview. So, this just accelerates the process, if you will, but there's no cap on the number of asylum cases.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Reclaiming my time, that is not my understanding and, if that is the case, then we would be happy to have our concerns assuaged. But that is not my understanding, and I'm not quite sure that my colleague from New Jersey is correct. I read the section to say that you will only have the opportunity if, in fact, you have already, by a class, been determined to have a credible fear established; you are at the front of the line of all of those who may have a legitimate credible fear but must establish
Chairman GILMAN. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. MENENDEZ. I'd be happy to yield to the Chairman.
Chairman GILMAN. I just want to note that I think that your concerns have been addressed in a modification of the measure that's been already introduced. I'm sure that Mr. Wolf will comment on it. With regard to asylum, that's within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee. I'm sure that Mr. Hyde's committee will be taking that up
Mr. MENENDEZ. I understand that it's in that jurisdiction, Mr. Chairman, but I would be remiss if I did not raise it early on, raise my saber.
Mr. BERMAN. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. MENENDEZ. Be happy to yield to the gentleman from California.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERMAN. I thank the gentleman for yielding. You have to distinguish here between the refugee issue and the asylum issue. I'm unaware of any cap on asylum. I am aware of some rather drastic and Draconian procedures that made it far more difficult for people with well-founded asylum claims to pursue their claims based on changes in the 1996 immigration law.
On the refugees, the cap that had existed in that legislation was taken away at the last second in terms of a rigid legislatively imposed cap. There is a cap that is, in effect, imposed by virtue of consultations between the Administration and the Congress on an annual basis, but my guess is any changes in the legislation could be taken into consideration in those consultations
Mr. MENENDEZ. And that is exactly my concern.
Mr. BERMAN. [continuing]. And the biggest question of all is if we're going to make good changes in that law to make more meaningful our refugee protections than the appropriators have to correspondingly do their job and give meaning to that, which has not always been the case.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Berman, thank you, Mr. Menendez.
We will now proceed to take testimony. We welcome Senator Specter, senior Senator from the State of Pennsylvania, former Federal Prosecutor, and I might note that his parents came to America to escape religious persecution. Welcome, Senator Specter. You may put in your full statement or summarize it, whichever you deem appropriate.
Senator SPECTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate the courtesy of letting me proceed briefly. We are in the midst of hearings on the Governmental Affairs Committee in the Senate, campaign finance reform, and I appreciate an opportunity to speak briefly and then be excused.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I enjoy being in the House and seeing this enormous hearing room and seeing the difference in procedures that you have here contrasted with the Senate, and I see so many friends here, and it's well worth the experience. I'd like to sit and listen for a while if the luxury of time were present.
On this legislation, my statement says the essence of what I would like to communicate. Very briefly, I'm delighted to work with my colleague, Congressman Frank Wolf who used to be from Pennsylvania, and from Philadelphia. His father was on the police force while I was district attorney a while ago, and I compliment him for what he has done, and his courageous statements about Tibet and his courageous statements on human rights generally, working with Mr. Strickland and others.
I will not go into any detail as to the incidents of religious persecution around the world; we know them only too well. I appreciate the Chairman's comment about my own parents. My father literally walked across Europe as an 18-year-old from a dirt-floored room that housed his eight siblings and himself, seeking freedom. He rode the bottom of the boat to come to the United States. He was under the Czar's heel and he did not want to go to Siberia. And his stories about the cossacks running down the street still ring in my ears. And my mother came as a child of five, with her family from the Russian-Polish border. That is also a familiar story. And it is a great privilege to be a first-generation American, something I couldn't do for my sons. To know these events, and when you see religious persecution, to act on it.
I'm glad to see and I compliment the Committee on moving ahead on a markup. Senator Lott is prepared to put this on an expeditious basis in the Senate. I've talked to Senator Helms, who will proceed with hearings in our companion committee, and the Majority leader, who I've talked to, is going to move this bill ahead, and I think it's very important that we have it ready for the International Day of Prayer, which will be in November. There are specifics on sanctions that have to be worked out with the Administration. My sense is that we can work them out and, if we can, I think this is going to be a veto-proof bill. There's so much sentiment and support of it.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, I'm delighted to have a chance to be with you today, and thank you for according me these courtesies.
[The prepared statement of Senator Specter appears in the appendix.]
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Senator Specter. We'll make your full testimony part of the record. We appreciate your taking time to be with us.
Mr. FOX. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it. I just wanted to thank my senior Senator, Senator Specter, for his leadership on this issue, as well as Congressmen Wolf and Strickland. It is a very important issue and one that particularly needs their kind of leadership to move it forward, and we are looking forward to working with you from the Committee.
Senator SPECTER. I'd like to thank Representative Fox for those generous remarks, and compliment him on his outstanding service to Pennsylvania and the country.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you. Mr. Rohrabacher.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Very briefly, I'd just like to express my appreciation to Senator Specter and to Congressman Strickland and Congressman Wolf for the leadership they are providing on this issue, especially to Congressman Wolf who recently visited Tibet, and I believe that his courage on that trip and his personal commitment on this issue are making a major difference to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people's lives.
I want to commend Congressman Wolf on one last point, that I just had a meeting yesterday with someone from East Turkistan, and that's way out in Xinjiang Province of China where there are 25 million people that no one's even heard of, and they are being persecuted for what? Because they, in a Communist country, are Muslims. There are thousands and thousands of people being persecuted and imprisoned there. It's our job, as free people, to make sure we do our best to stick up for the rights of people to worship God as they see fit. And I thank you all for the leadership you are providing.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher. Mr. Bereuter.
Mr. BEREUTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I don't want to delay proceedings, but I'm going to preside shortly, and I would like unanimous consent to put my full statement in the record, and ask my colleagues to look at it.
Chairman GILMAN. Without objection.
[The prepared statement of Congressman Bereuter appears in the appendix.]
Mr. BEREUTER. I desperately want to support a religious persecution bill such as this, but I did ask CRS for a review of it, and I think there are major difficulties that we can correct, that relate to refugee standards and refugees being pushed to the end of the line. So, I urge my colleagues to take a look at either the excerpts from the CRS report or the CRS report, and I will have them handed out, and believe we can work with our colleague, Mr. Wolf, all of our colleagues, and the Senate, to solve those problems. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Bereuter.
Chairman GILMAN. Now we will hear testimony from Congressman Wolf, who represents the good State of Virginia, Tenth District, and Mr. Wolf has been the leading spokesman on this bill, and we're proud of the work he's done to improve human rights and living conditions for refugees throughout the world.
He has traveled, I know, to El Salvador, to Africa, to Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and now most recently to Tibet, and went into the People's Republic of China, visited the prisons there. We're proud of your good work and we hope you will continue to do these human rights activities. Congressman Frank Wolf.
Mr. WOLF. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the comments, and I appreciate the Members being here and their interest in this.
Let me just say at the outset, I agree with what Mr. Menendez says. We reintroduced the bill yesterday and took care of that problem. We don't want to hurt anybody, our whole sense is to help everybody, and we don't want to help one group by hurting anybody else. So, I think you'll see the language has taken care of that.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I also agree with what Mr. Campbell says. We do not cut off any humanitarian aid and, if the Committee believes that we have made a mistake in that effort, we will be certainly open to that because we're not trying to cut off humanitarian aid to any country even if we don't agree with that country. We thought we had taken care of that problem but, if you have a better way of doing it, we're certainly open to that. And the bill was reintroduced with that and a couple of other minor technical things with regard to WTO and some others, so this is not a trade bill.
The Freedom From Religious Persecution Act represents what we hope will be a fundamental departure from ''business-as-usual'' human rights policy.
The persecution of Christians abroad is the great untold human rights story of the decade. With the end of the cold war came freedom for millions of Christians living under communism in the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe. Christians worked in solidarity with the Jewish community and others suffering persecution at the hands of the Communist dictators. The Jewish community led the fight. They did the outstanding job. And the Christians added their voice to demand justice for the sum of the faithful. But with the dawn of freedom came a feeling that the problem had been solved, a false sense of security that religious persecution no longer existed.
Sadly, religious persecution, and especially the persecution of Christians, did not end with the cold war. It persisted and accelerated. It has gotten worse while the world and the United States have turned their efforts elsewhere. There have been some who have been speaking out but, for the most part, their pleas for justice have been relegated to the world of the ''utopian'' in U.S. foreign policy. The words of support have been spoken, but the action to back them up has not always been forthcoming.
Current U.S. policy does not reflect the seriousness and intensity of this human tragedy. We have looked away while 1.5 million people have been killed in Sudan, and the Khartoum Government wages war against its own people. Christians and Muslimsand I think what Mr. Rohrabacher said is exactly truethere is persecution of Muslims in Chechnya, persecution of Muslimsthe Igors, the story, the 8090 million Muslims who are being persecuted in China never get on the screen with regard to this Congress or this Administration or anybody else.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This Committee has been in the forefront of it and speaking out on behalf of the Muslims in Bosnia. So, I think the gentleman raises a good point, and it's not only Christians, but Christians and Muslims in Sudan, and particular Muslims in the Nubia Mountains have been persecuted by their own government.
The world has been deafened to the cries of millions of house church Christians in China, who are forced to risk their lives and their freedom just to worship in secret to keep their faith independent of government control. The world only watches while Christians in Pakistan and Egypt are terrorized by violent mobs and left helpless by governments not willing to take a stand.
We have turned our backs while Tibetan Buddhists have seen their holy places destroyed. Almost 5,000 monasteries in Tibet have been destroyed. Every Tibetan monastery has a cadre of Chinese military that run the monastery. It is like, imagine, St. Albans, the Cathedral, the National Cathedral, having a group of six or seven military people from Ft. Myer running it. That's the way that the monasteries are run, those that are still in existence, and 56,000 have been destroyed.
Religious leaders have been imprisoned, tortured, raped and beaten, and we do not scream for justice when the Baha'is are executed in Iran.
We can no longer be silent. We must shatter the silence. We must recognize that religious freedom is fundamental to democracy, and democracy is the best way, or perhaps maybe the only way, to ensure global peace.
History has shown that religious adherents often become the first scapegoats of tyrants. Persecution of people of faith often foretells a growing menace of violence and tyranny against other sectors of society.
This century has already witnessed a number of genocides. Haven't we learned that silence reflects in some way acquiescence? Even if it's an acquiescence that we mean to be, the silence results in a form of acquiescence. And we have seen that in Nazi Germany time after time; just go to the Holocaust Museum and see.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC America must stand up for the weakest in society wherever it is to be found in the world, the vulnerable victims. When we do, we raise the comfort level for all others who are threatened by anti-democratic regimes.
The American Christian community has begun to call for action on behalf of the millions of Christians who are being persecuted for their beliefs. Beginning on September 29, a national season of prayer begins, and tens of thousands of churches and synagogues and temples across the Nation will discuss this issue and raise awareness of those who are being suffered for their faith.
A number of major feature films are about to be released shedding light on the persecution of the Tibetan people where Tibetan Buddhism faces virtual extinction. There is cultural genocide today taking place in Tibet. Their language is being stripped out. Lhasa is no longer a Tibetan city. There are more Chinese in Lhasa than there are Tibetans. The language is big in Chinese and very little in Tibetan. Their children are now removed and sent to China. Again, Lhasa, the forbidden city, is really a Chinese city with karaoke bars and things like that. So, a cultural genocide by stripping away, and 5.5 million Tibetans are of no threat to 1.2 billion Chinese. There is no need for the Chinese Government to do what they are doing.
On the recent journey, we heard story after story of nuns and monks being dragged off to jail, tortured for practicing their faith. Monasteries are tightly controlled by the Chinese Government. Allegiance to the Dalai Lima, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leaderand let me say we found everywhere the support for the Dalai Lama overwhelming by literally everyone that we spoke with. To display his picture is ground for imprisonment.
The Baha'i community has been faithfully calling for help throughout the years. The 104th Congress recognized persecution against Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and the Baha'is in three measures and called for action. The 105th Congress now has an opportunity to take action, tough but realistic action.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This religious persecution bill focuses on one aspect of this mammoth problem, persecution which includes abduction, enslavement, imprisonment, killing, forced mass resettlement, rape and torture. It does so in an attempt to highlight the most life-threatening kinds of religious persecution. It is not meantand I agree with Mr. Lantosnor should it be interpreted to mean, that this is the only kind of persecution that occurs. Bodily injury or imprisonment need not result for persecution to exist.
There are a number of violations of religious freedom which are not covered by this bill, and other persecutions that are not covered by this billdiscrimination both economic and political against those of minority faiths, discriminatory restrictions on repair and construction of houses of worship, desecration of cemeteries, harassment, and others. These actions should not be tolerated either. The fact that this bill does not address them should in no way be taken that they are not egregious and grotesque violations of the individual's internationally-accepted right to freedom.
I fully expect the U.S. Government, non-governmental organizations and multi-lateral institutions, to continue to vigorously press all governments to allow all citizens the fundamental and individual rights.
This bill, with sanctions attached, seeks to primarily address violations that are widespread and are threats to life and limb. If it is rigorously enforced, more attention will be given to other violations not directly sanctioned by the bill.
The bill establishes an office in the White House to monitor religious persecution, and requires the director to report to Congress on whether a country has Category 1 persecution, government involvement, or Category 2 persecution, no government involvement but lack of government action to stem persecution. This is the key determination which triggers action authorized in the legislation.
The bill focuses on aid and not trade. I stress that againit focuses on aid and not trade, not trade sanctions to encourage change. This is an important distinction and one I hope the business community will take note. Except for the section on Sudan, a narrowly tailored ban on the export of goods that can be used to facilitate persecution, and a narrowly tailored ban on the export of goods to governmental entities which carry out persecution, this bill contains no trade sanctions. Where it bans exports, it does so in the narrowest way practical. I must let this Committee know there are many who would like to see trade sanctions against governments that persecute people of faith, however, this bill uses other means to affect change.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It shuts off foreign aidexcept for humanitarian aid, and if the language is not clear, I would urge the Committee to change itto Category 1 and 2 countries and requires that U.S. executive directors work aggressively to deny loans by multi-lateral development banks to persecuting countries. It denies visas to individuals who carry out or are responsible for carrying out acts of persecution.
The bill also improves refugee and asylum procedures to ensure those seeking refuge from persecution are not turned away from a country which has historically welcomed religious victims. And as Mr. Gilman said, this is not before the Committee, but I think Mr. Menendez' comments and Mr. Berman's comments are accurate, and the bill has been changed to deal with that problem, so no group is hurt by this new group.
Finally, and I want to emphasize, the bill imposes immediate and tough sanctions on the Government of Sudan until it ceases all religious persecution. The sanctions prescribed in this bill are virtually identical to those imposed on South Africa in the anti-apartheid act of the 1980's. Having traveled to Sudan three times and been in the south since 1989, I can say with some experience that the persecution occurring in Sudan is some of the worst that anyone in this whole world has ever, ever seen. Slavery, real slaverythey go in the villages, they kidnap the people and they take them away and they sell them. Real, real slavery. You could go to southern Sudan today with some individual groups, they could take you in portions of the south to slave markets whereby you could buy slaves. And the groups are doing that, they are buying slaves and bringing them back and giving the individuals back to their families. But slavery, forcible conversion, the use of food as a weaponand food should never be used as a weapontorture, and the kidnapping of children.
So it's time the United States singled this country out as an example of one of the most egregious violators of human rights in the world.
The bill is not intended as a panacea. The international community, the President, the Congress, and freedom-loving people around the world must remain vigilant and courageous in standing up against religious violence. We must continue to raise individual cases and work toward religious freedom for all. And when we raise the individual cases, as we did in the Soviet Union, we help individuals.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would urge the Congress, all the Members, adopt somebody in the prisons in Tibet. Adopt somebody in the prisons in the different countries. By the adoption of the prisonersand many of you know as well as anybody, when the people went to Moscow and they would write to these peopleand Chris can tell you, when we went into Perm Camp 35, the prisoners in Perm 35 knew that people had written them. They knew about it in the foothills of the Ural Mountains that people were writing. Sometimes the letters got through to them, other times it just got to Colonel Osen, the Commandant, and other times they just went to Moscow. But when letters came flooding in, it made their life better. So, adopt a Tibetan monk or a nun, adopt a Catholic priest, adopt somebody in some country as we did in the 1970's and the 1980's.
In closing, the Jackson-Vanik was the movement that crystallized concern in the 1980's on behalf of those suffering persecution in the Soviet Union. This bill hopefully will be its counterpart in the 1990's. It takes a different approach, but it commands an equal level of popular support and attention.
I would just submit the rest of the statement, and thank the Chair on the hearings, and would urge and hopeno bill is perfect, and I know this Committee, who knows much more about many of these things than I do, will make some changes. But I would urge you and appreciate if the bill could move quickly whereby, as Senator Specter said, it will be passed and in law whereby in the months of September, October and November, building up, people will focus on this issue where there will be a political effort in the country to sensitivity because I think when you help the least of these, when you help the least group that many people know about, we then help, frankly, every other group that's going to be persecuted.
[The prepared statement of Congressman Wolf appears in the appendix.]
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Congressman Wolf, for your very poignant remarks, and for being a leader in this effort, and for your diligence in moving the bill to our Committee. Our Committee expects to mark up this bill on Thursday and it will then be ready to go to the floor, and we'll welcome any joint effort to get early and expeditious consideration.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman GILMAN. And now we welcome Congressman Ted Strickland from the State of Ohio. I note that Congressman Strickland is a former United Methodist minister, and brings a little religious approach to all of this, and we welcome your comments, Mr. Strickland. You may put in your full statement or summarize it, whichever you see fit.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Representative Hamilton, and other Members of the Committee. I am really appreciative of the opportunity to be here today to lend my support to Representative Wolf's efforts. I want to share with you, if I may, some of my views about religious persecution. As a former United Methodist minister, I'm aware that religious persecution exists, certainly.
Perhaps many of us as children recall the stories of Daniel being thrust into the lion's den and of Paul and Silas being cast into prison because of their religious beliefs. The truth is that such religious persecution exists to this day.
When I speak of religious faith, I speak of all faiths that provide peace and guidance to individuals and to communities. In America, I believe we don't always appreciate our protected freedoms, while in other countries innocent individuals are tortured, raped and suppressed because they seek solace in a self-discovered sanctity freely embraced. Unfortunately, our country's current foreign policy does not adequately reflect the need for serious worldwide action.
In the past, our country has made attempts to deter religious persecution through congressional threats of financial restraint and even physical presence. To date, we still make attempts to restrict and discourage religious persecution in other countries through our defense and foreign affairs authorization bills. However, over the years, religious persecution has not dissipated but, in fact, it has shockingly persisted and even accelerated.
We have made threats and issued sanctions to deter religious persecution, but our actions have been taken lightly. Congress must now depart from ''business as usual'' and let the offending governments' groups and individuals participating in such atrocities know that we are serious. Now is a prime opportunity for the Congress to take action and to address this critical infringement of human rights.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think it is right and appropriate for Congress and the White House to unite to end these devastating acts against people of faith, and I would agree with my colleague, Mr. Smith, when he said that this is an issue that ought to unite conservatives, moderates and liberals. This is an issue that we all should be concerned about.
Congress is now faced with an inescapable challenge to say out loud to the world and to our country that we are taking a new approach to this problem, and we will no longer be silent when regimes terrorize and torture people of faith.
I strongly urge you to consider three critical and relevant points addressed in Representative Wolf's proposed bill. First, the need for a visible presence in the White House to track and monitor religious persecution. Second, the imposition of sanctions to impose financial hardships on offending parties. And, third, the expedition of asylum proceedings for victims of religious persecution.
The world has been deaf long enough. Let Congress state loudly and clearly that our tolerance has reached an end point. I am hopeful that this Committee will follow the lead of Representative Wolf and take the first vital steps to aggressively address religious persecution as it exists throughout the world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Congressman Strickland appears in the appendix.]
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Congressman Strickland.
I'm going to address both of you as panelistsand, incidentally, we will welcome you joining the Committee here after you're finished being questioned, if you'd like to take part in the remainder of the hearing.
Can you tell us what's lacking in our government that prevents it from responding adequately to the religious repression around the world? Mr. Wolf, Mr. Strickland?
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF. Well, I think many people felt that when the fall of the Soviet Union took place, and the liberation of Eastern Europe, that things had improved. So, I think an educational process is the one thing.
Second, I think there has not been anyone at the table in the White House to aggressively raise these issues. Trade is adequately addressed. National security is adequately addressed. And we don't maintain that this person will always be successful, but just to be at the table to raise the issues. So, I think those two things are two of the most important.
Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Strickland.
Mr. STRICKLAND. Mr. Gilman, it is my impression that this is a problem that has been not recognized to be as extensive or as serious a problem as it actually is. And I think one of the issues has been that until Representative Wolf and others sought to bring this to the public and the awareness of both the Congress and the Administration, that it has simply been a problem that has not been adequately recognized as a problem.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you. How would you respond, gentlemen, to the criticism that while this bill responds to gross repression of religious rights, it would sanction the government if it imprisons and tortures religious practitioners, it appears to do little if a government makes it illegal to practice one's faith? And correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't a government close all the churches, mosques, synagogues in their nation, confiscate all the Bibles and levy heavy fines on religious practitioners and take away their means of livelihood, and yet that government would not be sanctioned? Mr. Wolf, Mr. Strickland?
Mr. WOLF. We have attempted to make the billparticularly after going through the whole effort on MFN and the criticismwe have attempted to make the bill as narrowly drawn as possible for life, limb, physical harm, death. The Baha'is that have been killed in Iran, of the three Assembly of God pastors that have been killed in Iran, and on and on.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If the Committee were of the mind to broaden it, I certainly would not be opposed to that, but we have attempted to make this thing narrow, and we have struggled to make it not a trade bill. But, certainly, I am not one that would tell the Committee they ought not broaden it.
Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Strickland, any comment?
Mr. STRICKLAND. I would agree with what Representative Wolf has said. I think that this can be viewed as one step, it does not mean that it addresses all the problems. We may need to do more with additional legislation at some point in the future, but I think this bill, as I understand Representative Wolf's efforts, is simply to identify the most egregious kinds of violations of religious beliefs and faith that exist in the world.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you. Mr. Wolf, your bill incorporates and expands upon legislation that I've introduced earlier, the Free the Clergy Act, that would deny visas to government officials who repress religion. Can you comment on that provision?
Mr. WOLF. Well, we know in the past there have been times that individuals have been eligible to come to the United States, who have been either directly involved or indirectly involved working for agencies that have been involved in the persecution of people of faith, and also involved in torture and other things like that. Individuals like that ought not be permitted to enter the United States. And I think it is certainly acceptable that we deny them visas.
Chairman GILMAN. Mr. Berman.
Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Chairman, we have a vote on, right?
Chairman GILMAN. Yes.
Mr. BERMAN. I had about 5 minutescould I pass for now and come back afterwards, after the vote?
Chairman GILMAN. Yes. I'm trying to call the gentlemen in the order in which they came. Mr. Capps.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CAPPS. Well, I appreciate the testimony very much. I have some questions to ask about it, however, and I want to preface this by saying that I've been a teacher of religion for a long time at the University of California. I have a real interest in this topic.
And one of the aspirations that I've had as a teacher is that we draw on the positive sides of religious traditions because I thinkand when you look over the whole range of human history, religion has been responsible for a lot of ill that goes on in the world. It's been responsible for a lot of good.
And I'd like to recall that major conflicts throughout the world are fueled by conflicts between religion. We have a major conflict situation between India and Pakistan, in which the differences between Hinduism and Muslim religion are involved. And major conflict in the Middle East because there are two rival religions that occupy the same territory.
The Pope goes to Sri Lanka and speaks disparagingly of Buddhism, and we react. There is a massive persecution of Christians in the Sudan, there's no doubt about that. But we should also add that there's a civil war going on in the Sudan, and Christians are on the side that opposes the prevailing government.
I think what I'd like to see more of in this, to make this bill stronger and more compelling, I'd like to see some real data. I know that there's persecution in the world, religious persecution, and it's no doubt increasing, and that's a terrible, horrible thing but, at the same time, we are not being asked to do this by the churches. It is not the churches who are leading this charge. And there is some freedom of religion in China that was not there some years ago. I know this goes against the grain to talk this way. The Dalai Lama is a personal friend of mine, and everything you've said about the persecution of people in Tibet is absolutely accurate. And yet I'd like to see some numbers.
I mean, this is sort of hearsay information, and it's the kind of thing where somebody went to Tibet or somebody went to China and this is the report you get, but I've talked to people who are working in China today, in underground churches, who don't particularly welcome this kind of legislation right now because they have accommodated to prevailing conditions there, and they are not sure this is the right thing.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Wolf, the real question is, how do you identify religious persecution? If such an office were established in the White House, what would count as religious persecution as distinct from the long-term conflicts between religious traditions that are prevalent throughout the world, prevalent throughout history?
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Capps, we have a fundamental difference here. It's undeniable what is taking place. The State Department's own report, which was mandated by the Congress last year with language that was put in the foreign ops, documents everything that we talked about.
There have been 1.2 to 1.5 million Sudanese, black Sudanese, who have been killed, and many are in villages and do not want to be involved in the war. Many have also been Muslims in the Nubia Mountains. You can talk to anybody and they will tell you that.
Go to Tibet and see, and talk to Tibetan monks and they will tell you the story there. Talk to the Catholic Church and find out the number of bishops who are in jail, the number of Catholic priests who are in jail, the number of house church leaders who are in jail. The persecution of the Muslims, the 80 to 90 Muslims in the northwest portion of China, and the beat goes on.
And the definition is very clear, religious persecution is defined as ongoing, widespread persecution because of membership in or affiliation with a religion or religious denomination officially recognized as otherwise, when such persecutionand we've defined it narrowly and have been criticized for defining it too narrowlywhen such persecution includes abductionthat's taking awayenslavementthe slavery in Sudanimprisonment, killing, forced mass resettlement, rapeas in Bosnia when 22,000 women have been raped in Bosnia by the Serbsas we've seen the little camps where we've seenI was in a Serb-run prisoner-of-war camp. The houses whereby when the Serb soldiers would come in and rape 12- and 13- and 14-year-old women, documented by the hearings that Congressman Smith had and this Congress has had, and during the debates last year when you were not in this Congress, and the year before. Enslavement, rape, torture, including crucifixion which takes place in the Nubia Mountains whereby they crucify people as Jesus was crucified and put them on the cross.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, the documentations have been made not by some Congressman or not by some human rights group, but by our own government, if you read the report that came out several months ago from the State Department. They have documented it, not us.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Wolf, thank you, Mr. Capps.
The Committee will stand in recess to take care of the vote that's presently pending. We will be back very shortly.
Chairman GILMAN. The Committee will come to order. Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Just very briefly again I want to thank Mr. Wolf for his leadership, and others have done so as well. Frank and I both got elected in the same year, Mr. Chairman, as you know, in 1980, and took office in 1981, and no one in this Congress or in any previous Congress has done more to advance the ball consistently, with a tenacity that is just incredible and very inspiring on behalf of those persecuted Christians and other people of faith throughout the world. So, it's an honor to be a co-sponsor of your legislation, Mr. Wolf.
In reading the Administration's statement and reading Secretary John Shattuck's statement, he makes the point on page 7 that they believe that the current draft would frustrate the objectives of religious freedom and other objectives and, for this reason, they oppose the legislation.
I was wondering if you could maybe addressand I think this is unfortunate. I thought that the Administration might embrace the legislation or offer perhapsand maybe he will when he testifiessome ways that it might be changed to meet muster. But the statement is made that ''it is a blunt instrument, it is likely to do more harm rather than aid victims of religious persecution, it runs the risk of harming bilateral relations''and just parenthetically in my opening I raised that question myself. We are alwaysand it galls me to no end, we are always subordinating human rights to some other consideration.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Whenever there is an array of issues on the table, human rights gets thrown to the back of the bus. And here we're seeing it againperhaps we're seeing it againand we saw it with MFN with China. Good people were on both sides of that issue, but human rights wasn't even an asterisk in that debate. It became a matter of, well, we've got good trading relationships, maybe we can train them to respect human rights over the long run and, if anything it's going in the opposite direction.
The criticism that this creates a confusing bureaucratic structureI read the legislation, and I think you and Senator Specter and the bipartisan sponsors have put together a very clear structure, but this idea that this is somehow a blunt instrumentMr. Wolf, would you respond to that.
Mr. WOLF. Chris, I appreciate your comments, too, and your friendship over the years. South Africa. If the Congress had not acted on South Africa, would Nelson Mandella be President today? Would the conditions have changed? We could go on. Chile. And I think, unfortunatelyand I'm not here to be criticizing, I personally like John Shattuck and have nothing but highest compliments with regard to him, and I don't want to get into negative comments about the Administrationbut I think a lot of times this Administration as well as the Bush Administration have put business highly over these fundamental issues.
Someone said during the debate on the MFN, the words of the Declaration of Independence''We hold these truths to be self-evident'', ''life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness'' were not only written for Virginians or Americans, but for the entire world.
And so sometimes it take a blunt instrument. But I would differ with them; this is not a blunt instrument. There are opportunities for the Administration to use its judgment. But I think we heighten the sensitivity and make it a policy so that when there is a meeting at the White House, this issue has to be addressed. Maybe the individual will not always be successful, but trade now comes in, national security comes in, this issue should also come in.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I think the best answer to your question is South Africa. It would not have changed had there not been sanctions on South Africa.
Mr. SMITH. In looking again at one of the criticisms, they take issue with the fact that establishes a hierarchy of human rights violations that would severely damage U.S. efforts to ensure all aspects of civil and political rights.
Both you and I, and I think many others, believe that religious persecution has been so denigrated, so absent when it comes to refugee protectionwhat happened in the Sudan, in providing asylum to so many people seeking asylumthat it needs to be, I think, thrust to a center stage. How do you respond to that view? I mean, how does this in any way diminish respect for human rights in other areas, when we put a spotlight in trying to aid those who are suffering so cruelly in these countries?
Mr. WOLF. Quite the contrary, I think it increases whereby the spotlight is put on, you raise the comfort level for all other groups. The moderate Muslims support this bill perhaps more than any other group. The moderate Muslims know that we, basically, by going to the defense of different groups, really help them.
I don't know what the Administrationwhy they say it. My sense is there's some sort of chaff that they're throwing out to divert, but I think Mr. Shattuck had better answer that. I didn't know what the Administration's position was until you just told me and a press person came and told me they were opposed to the bill, and I was shocked because I thought they would certainly, as Mr. Shattuck came by, that they were going to support the bill maybe with some recommendations, but I did not know that they opposed the bill.
Mr. SMITH. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, I'm very dismayed and disappointed that the Administration has chosen to oppose the bill as well. And yet we have, when necessary and when there has been an egregious violation and in this case a pattern of violations going on around the world, provided special protections. The Lautenberg provisions, which I offered last year and they were successfully put into a bill, they were also done by the appropriators in their legislation, to extend it for another 2 years. Our bill that's pending in the Conference would extent the Lautenberg provisions.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It does, yes, make some people special and gives them some special protection, particularly Russian Jews and evangelicals, fine. If they are at risk, we ought to step up to the plate and provide help to these people.
So, I don't think human rights are denigrated or lessened in other categories when religious freedom is put out and say ''This matters to this country.'' So, with all due respect to Mr. Shattuck, who I deeply do respect, I'm very disappointed that the Administration is opposing this legislation.
Chairman GILMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. Thank you, Mr. Smith. Mr. Berman.
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to go back for a moment to this refugee and asylee issue because I think we may need to do a little bit more work to reach the point that we want to reach.
What you have done in this modified version, you have put in a provision which essentially says the changes in law that this bill is going to affect can have not any effect on other individuals being considered for refugee status. But a critical part of this is the will to increase the number of refugees which are admitted into this country. And as I'm sure you know, there are forcesthe leadership of the Immigration Committee in the House, otherswho want to cap and restrict the number of refugees even beyond the process of year-to-year determinations that goes on in the consultations between the Administration and the Congress. And the issue of appropriations to bring the refugees here to resettle the refugees becomes critical.
And I just, I guess, in order to make those words that you put into this bill meaningful, it can only be impacted by higher numbers of refugeeswhich I'm forand greater funding for both the overseas transportation and processing of these refugees and the aid to the local governments to help the absorption of these refugees. And I guess I'd like to hear the extent to which the sponsors of this bill view this as a total kind of a commitment that will impact on all aspects of this process, and not simply changing the law to squeeze one group out in place of another, when I know that's not your intent.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF. No, that's not the intent, Mr. Berman. In the language that we put in in 9(g) it says ''Refugees admitted to the United States as a result of the procedures in this section shall not displace other refugees who would otherwise have been admitted under existing law and procedures.''
We make it clear we are working with the Immigration people
Mr. BERMAN. Here is the problem. If you say only 55,000 refugees will come in this year, it's the old Lincoln story of calling a tail a leg. Somewhere it doesn't make it a leg. Saying we won't displace them by creating a presumptive definition, like Lautenberg didthis may go even further in doing it, I'm not surebut we have to adjust the numbers upwards. And that's all I want to make sure is, that commitment stays with us through both the consultation process in terms of the numbers and in terms of the appropriations process in terms of the funding.
Mr. SMITH. Would my friend yield?
Mr. BERMAN. Sure.
Mr. SMITH. You know, the gentleman from California will recall that I offered the amendment to get rid of that cap in the immigration bill last year, which would have set it artificially low, at about half of what it was just a couple of years ago at 110,000. The Administration has been driving that number lower, and thankfully you and I and some othersMr. Wolf and some othersdo believe that that number through the consultation process should be going upwards, not downwards.
We're awash in refugees; 25 million people around the world are of interest to the UNHCR, so there are real problems, and we're not doing our fair share.
And let me also say, we've also fought for more money. You might recall, in the State Department authorization bill, we put $704 million in. Regrettably, it's been knocked down to $650.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERMAN. But the key money here I'm talking about is the money appropriated through the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriation bill for refugee assistance in local areas.
But in any event, I'd like to just move on to another issue, and that is the trade issue. I thought I heard you say that the new version of the bill does not use trade sanctions as a tool. Now, I'm not sure that that'sI don't know that I would agree with that, but it looks to me like the bill still has a series of trade sanctions in it, export sanctions.
Mr. WOLF. Weapons, cattle prods that are used to shock people, something like that. If the KGB were getting people and shocking people in Lubianca Prison and we knew they were placing an order for cattle prods, we would hope that we would not be selling them to them. That's the basis of it.
Mr. BERMAN. I just want to make it clear that the bill still contains
Mr. WOLF. Yes, we took out the language
Mr. BERMAN [continuing]. Sanctions on exports. I think export sanctions are an appropriate kind of a tool, but I want to make it clear that those are still in the bill.
Mr. WOLF. Yes, they are in the bill, but it's not a trade bill. It's not an MFN bill. We also took out the provision to vote against the World Trade Organization, to make it so thatwe're not trying to use trade as a weapon. We're not trying to bring this into the MFN debate.
I know that Mr. Smith said there are good people on both sides. You know, I happen to be on the wrong side, I guess.
Mr. BERMAN. On the export sanction
Mr. WOLF. But the point is, we have gone over backwards that this is not a trade bill, in a sense. Now, if there are cattle prods to the Secret Police in Sudan, obviously, they ought not be sold to them.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BERMAN. There are two types of sanctions you still have. One is prohibitions on exports to responsible entities. To what extent is that too limiting? In other words, the Minister of Interior is in charge of religious repression, and that means we can still export to a variety of other governmental agencies of that government.
Mr. WOLF. Well, that's a valid point. I think you raise a very goodI have attempted to make it narrow. If the Committee, in its wisdom, wanted to broaden it, I would certainly not be opposed, but we did not make it so broad that the Minister of Interior, everybody there is denied a visa. We tried to focus on that narrowest term.
Mr. BERMAN. I raise that as an issue only to say that I'm not sure the ''one size fits all'' in every single situation works. Maybe there should be a little bit of discretion in some case where you have a massive State apparatus involved, to impose the ban on exports to any governmental agency, in other countries maybe just targeted to a particular one, and leaving a little bit of flexibility there.
I have other questions, but
Mr. WOLF. Let me just say, I think you make a very good point there, and I'd be open to that.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Berman. Mr. Campbell.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Frank, I commend you. My questions are with an effort to try to make the bill better.
Following up my colleague from California, do you still prohibit the trade in items to responsible entities by U.S. persons?
Mr. WOLF. Yes, if they are selling
Mr. CAMPBELL. Sure. And I apologize, I've only got 5 minutes so I'm going to try to go fast, but I will try not to cut you off. So, hypotheticallyand my colleague from California may want to listen to my hypotheticalsuppose you are speaking about the Chinese army, which I know it runs a fair number of industries in China. Suppose that the Commissioner finds the Chinese army is a responsible entity, then would your bill prohibit the trade in a totally unrelated field between a U.S. citizen and this particular factory that's run by the Chinese army?
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF. No.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Why not? As I read Section 7(a)(2)(i)
Mr. WOLF. Because we made it narrow. That's Mr. Berman's point, that he would like, I assume, to broaden it out. But it's narrowly defined for the very purpose that we don't get into a whole trade thing.
If it's the PLA operating a slave labor camp in a certain province, and we know that they're doing certain abuses and torture with a certain thing, it will be narrowed down. We have defined it narrowly. If the Committee wanted to broaden it, I would be open to
Mr. CAMPBELL. No, that would not be my interest. My interest would be to narrow it. Responsible entity, thus, in my hypothetical, Chinese People's Liberation Army runs this particular cement plant. An American firm has got some business with that cement plant. And the PLA is held to be one of the responsible entities.
Mr. WOLF. No, it would not support that.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Then if the bill does, you would not object to such a change.
Mr. WOLF. Nor would I object if Mr. Berman wants to broaden it. I think that's for your Committee. You all know a lot more about these things that I don't know.
Mr. CAMPBELL. No, you know much more than I, I really recognize that.
Second point, there appears to be no waiver for Sudan where there is a waiver for everybody else. Am I accurate in so characterizing your bill? A waiver provision exists in the bill for everybody else, for all of these sanctionsCambodia, Korea, Cubabut not
Mr. WOLF. Correct.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I think that's a flaw, but that's all right, I just wanted to ascertain that.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF. But the President has the ability for the waiver.
Mr. CAMPBELL. No, I don't believe he does anymore.
Mr. WOLF. Yes, he does.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Would you mind telling me where in your bill the President has the waiver for Sudan?
Mr. WOLF. I don't know, to be honest with you. My sense is
Mr. CAMPBELL. I don't think so.
Mr. WOLF. My sense is, we would want, in a veryI don't want to open this waiver up whereby they can say ''This might happen, therefore, we're not going to.''
The Government of Sudanmost major terrorist groups are operating in downtown Khartoum.
Mr. CAMPBELL. It just seems to me that you ought to have one rule for all countries.
Mr. WOLF. But there's a different waiver of a sanction with regard to an agency versus a waiver with regard to a country. In fairness, the President ought to operate the foreign policy of the country, and I'm sensitive to it. But, I mean, you would have to have a different standard of whether you cut off aid to a particular prison than whether you waive everything for Sudan.
Mr. CAMPBELL. What I'll try to do in markup is
Mr. WOLF. This Administration is ready to reopen our embassy in
Mr. CAMPBELL. I'm acutely aware of the lack of time, so
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF [continuing]. And in Section 614, the staff says under foreign assistance, the President can waive any sanctions if vital to national security.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I don't read that in your bill but, if that is your understanding, then you wouldn't object.
Mr. WOLF. That's the law.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Well, most recent law in time trumps earlier law in time. As I read the Sudan provision of your law, it does not create an exemption.
Mr. WOLF. If it's
Mr. CAMPBELL. Allow me to ask the question just for a moment, my good friend and colleague. We'll work this out in markup, and I wanted to have your view on it.
Last, you spoke about development assistance being not to include humanitarian. The example that I have is from the amendment I offered last week on Africa. It's a good example. Africa Development Bank tries to get micro-enterprise money to small enterprises, couple hundred dollars. And let's say just for the sake of argument that Kenya is held to be on this list. There have been some allegations. I don't have to judge that, but let's use that as a hypothetical.
I would assume that your bill would terminate U.S. participation and direct our representative on Africa Development Bank to vote against the extension of credit to Kenya under that program. Is that correct?
Mr. WOLF. Under the bill, we meant not to have any humanitarian aid. Most world bank aids are not, but you do raise a valid question under the African Development Bank. And as long as it were defined in a way that they could not just say, well, they say such-and-such so we're going to waive it, I think that would be very, very appropriate to deal with that issue.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Thanks for responding to my questions, much obliged.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RADEMAKER. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I'd be happy to yield.
Mr. RADEMAKER. Mr. Campbell, if the question is whether there is a waiver in the bill regarding the sanctions that would be imposed on Sudan, the answer is that, yes, there is.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Could you show it to me? I might have an earlier version of the bill, butwhat is the section, please?
Mr. RADEMAKER. Section 12(a). Within subsection (a) there are paragraphs (1) through (7), and the language you'll see immediately after those paragraphs contains a waiver.
Mr. CAMPBELL. The language immediately after those paragraphs is (b) Additional Sanctions on Sudan.
Mr. RADEMAKER. Well, paragraph 7 says ''Shall continue in effect after enactment of this Act until the Director determines''
Mr. CAMPBELL. ''...in accordance with Section 11, that Sudan has substantially eliminated religious persecution.'' That is not a waiver to the President.
Mr. RADEMAKER. Well, I think you're technically correct, but it's a waiver
Mr. CAMPBELL. Well, technically correct matters a whole deal here. If the Director determines that the predicates no longer exist, fine. But if the predicates exist yet national security compels a waiverand that's the way we have it for every other countrywe ought to have that for Sudan. And that is not in this bill, although I'm hoping to stand corrected.
Mr. WOLF. Well, in fairness to counsel, he didn't draft the bill so he would have no way of knowing. I would have no objection if it were defined inI don't want to just say ''just because''. You remember Occidental Petroleum, they were ready to give a lease whereby they could drill oil
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CAMPBELL. I'm talking about a sincere national security. Thank you. And I heard you to say that would be fine in your view. Thank you so much.
Chairman GILMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Clement.
Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Congressman Wolf, I believe we need to do all we can to stop religious persecution. And because of this conviction, last fall I sponsored the resolution condemning the persecution of Christians worldwide that you introduced, and we worked together on cases of religious persecution abroad. However, I still have some reservations about this bill, and it's obvious, from listening to the Committee, that others have some reservations as well.
Some of the basic problems I have, No. 1, the concentration of power in the hands of one individual, one person imposes sanctions which could dramatically affect relations with other countries on the basis of one issue alone.
No. 2, the bill ties foreign policy to a ''one size fits all'' diplomacy and sanctions that are not tailored to specific countries.
No. 3, concern among the persecuted communities, which I've talked to as well, reports indicate that many in the persecuted communities themselves and those who work with them are concerned about such a blunt sanctions-driven approach that could create backlash without helping the problem.
And some are also concerned, as you know, about the emphasis on immigration. I'd like for you to answer those concerns.
Mr. WOLF. Well, first, I think the President would appoint this person. They would be working for the President. There would be the advice and consent of the Senate. You have one person now in the White House for national security, you have one person down there for consumer affairs. You have a public relations office. You have an outside interests office. I think religious freedom and human rights certainly validates that.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Second, a blunt instrument. No Member of Congress would have gone to the floor of the House in 1982, and said that they were opposed to the policy of the Reagan Administration and therefore favored granting MFN to the Soviet Union. Now, was that a blunt instrument? They were persecuting the Jewish population in the Soviet Union. They were not allowing them to emigrate. They were also going after other religious groups, as Mr. Smith said.
I mean, Ronald Reagan didn't give them, we took awayin 1987, Congressman Tony Hall, Congressman Chris Smith and I offered the resolution to deny MFN for Romania, which was persecuting groups of people. The Congress, in its wisdom, denied MFN. Call that a blunt instrument. This is not nearly as blunt as taking away MFN, and yet the Congress, during the dark days of the Ceaucescu Administration, took it away. And it was my resolution that Congress passed several years ago to take away MFN from Serbia because of the activities of Serbia. So, they were blunt.
Mr. CLEMENT. Well, let me ask about this. If a listing is made for Egypt, that sanctions are waived because Egypt happens to be a key ally, what happens to our credibility on this very issue, and are we talking big and doing nothing?
Mr. WOLF. I don't think so. I think that's a decision that the President has to make. He has that waiver ability.
Mr. CLEMENT. This is a ''one size fits all'' approach to a complex global problem. It has no flexibility for the vast differences in what is effective for one country but not another. A leader of the Soviet Jewry movement has publicly said that different approaches were necessary with different countries, including ''back-room diplomacy''. For example, this winter, I worked on the case of a Christian missionary imprisoned in a country in the Middle East. In fact, you, Mr. Wolf, worked on this case as well.
It became very clear that speaking out publicly would play into that government's intentions to try this man as a spy. So, we were silent publicly, but we worked quietly with the State Department and other diplomatic channels. This man was released.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC How does this bill allow for that kind of flexibility?
Mr. WOLF. There would be total flexibility. And the President has many other tools other than this. And that man was an American citizen in prison. I commend you for your activities, but he was not having cattle prods put all over him. He was not in prison for 30 years. He was not starved. He was not tortured. His family was not arrested. So, the circumstances are different.
And when you talk to the persecuted church, when I was in Tibet 2 weeks ago, everyone said, without knowing what I did for a living, said ''Go back and tell the United States.'' And they said, ''When the United States puts pressure on, things change. When the United States removes pressure, things go back.'' When they found out we were from the United States, they gave us a thumbs-up.
So, you know, talk to the persecuted Christians around the world, the persecuted Muslims, the persecuted Baha'is, the persecuted Buddhists, the persecuted any-faith. They will tell you, when the United States stands with them in solidarity, things get better.
During the Reagan Administration, and also the Carter Administration, Secretaries of State used to go to Moscow, they may meet with the Soviet leadership, but they also met with the dissidents in the American Embassy in solidarity. We don't do that anymore. We don't meet with dissidents. We don't go to the churches. We don't try to go in there and see it because we're afraid that we're going to upset somebody.
By meeting in solidarity with them, we make a difference. Very few people who are being persecuted tell the Catholic priest who has been in jail for 30-some years in China, that if we speak out, that it's going to make his life worse. Wow. Tell the guy, the Tibetan monk, that sat here and said when former Ambassador Lilly came into the prison in China, he reached out for him and he talked about what happened to his life. Tell him that the U.S. efforthe saw Lilly and wanted Lilly to say something in the hope that just maybe somebody would take something back. Tell him that that wouldI mean, he will say ''right on''.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This gives the Presidenthe has a lot of authority and a lot of ability, and he also has the waiver ability. I would rather err on the side of helping those who are persecuted than do nothing.
Chairman GILMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Brady.
Mr. BRADY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There is so much of this bill that I agree with and I appreciate the approach you've taken. However, one area that concerns me is in the export sanctions. Not from the standard argument of doing business with these countries, but from an effectiveness argument.
It seems to me that many still believe that America is the lone source of many products and technology in this world and, as we know, that's simply not true.
My question, Congressman Wolf, is, have we considered as an economic sanction, the imports of goods from those countries? It seems to me that punishing economically someone by saying ''We are not going to sell to you'' is nowhere near as effective as using America's purchasing power to say, ''We are not going to buy from you.'' And we are, in many of these countries financing through our imports much of the religious prosecution that we see. What are your thoughts?
Mr. WOLF. Well, I agree with you, but we attempted, in the interest of knowing the differences of the body and people on both sides of good faith, knowing that we did not want to get into the trade areasomething that I may agree with but Mr. Campbell may notwe did not get into that. And we narrowly, in Section 7 for the sanctions, it's a ban on exports to the entity that's been involved in the persecution. And I think, frankly, most American companies would not want to sell that product to them anyway, if they knew, but we did not want to turn this into a trade bill that would prohibit trading back and forth between different countries.
I personally would probably favor that, but we don't do that in the bill.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BRADY. And I probably agree with you, I think trade sanctions ought to be one of the last resorts, but they need to be effective.
I'm eager to get to a debate on how to effectively bring about sanctions not simply looking at the export side which punishes our companies and our workers over here, but also looking at the import side which I think is a much stronger financial impact. Thank you. I appreciate your comments.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Brady. Mr. Luther.
Mr. LUTHER. No questions, Mr. Chairman, but certainly I want to thank you, Congressman Wolf, for your excellent testimony, and I appreciate the terrific insight you bring to this issue as well as many other issues. It's been very much of an honor to listen to your testimony on this particular issue, so thank you very much.
Mr. WOLF. Thank you.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Luther. Mr. Hamilton.
Mr. HAMILTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let's assume for a minute this bill were enacted into law as it is. What countries are affected right away, and what would happen right away?
Mr. WOLF. The countries that would be affected mainly are the ones that are laid out in the bill, which track three different measures that passed in the previous Congress. The Congress has been on recordI believe all the votes were unanimous, maybe there was one or two votes against one, I'm not sure.
Mr. HAMILTON. Spell that out for me.
Mr. WOLF. There were three resolutions, three measures last year. The Congress won a record in the 104th Congress in support of dealing with the issue of persecuted Christians, the persecuted Buddhists from Tibet, and also the Baha'is. Those threewhich passed the Congress in the last Congresshave been the model that this bill has been based on. In those, they mention China, Vietnam, Sudan, Cuba, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, North Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, and Laos. They would be the focus of it. And then the Director of the office would then have the ability to
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HAMILTON. Just to be clear now, what happens? In each of those countries you mention, some of them, I presume, are Category 1 countries.
Mr. WOLF. Yes.
Mr. HAMILTON. And you would have mandatory sanctions placed on those countries.
Mr. WOLF. No. The Director makes a finding, and the finding then is looked at at the White House. And there is about a year whereby that goes on. Many of these problems will be taken
Mr. HAMILTON. All right. So, most of the discussion this morning has been kind of abstract, and I don't want to denigrate that, that's important, but I'm also trying to understand precisely what this means. Does it mean, for example, that we're going to be placing sanctions on Saudi Arabia?
Mr. WOLF. No, it does not.
Mr. HAMILTON. What country would have sanctions placed on it, in your view, right away if this bill were enacted?
Mr. WOLF. Sudanwhat sanctions, because we're not talking
Mr. HAMILTON. I'm asking
Mr. WOLF. I think it's important to go back
Mr. HAMILTON. Frank, I'm asking you to tell me what the impact of the bill is specifically in your mind. I mean, it's not clear to me.
Mr. WOLF. If the office and the Director of the office found widespread, ongoing persecution because of membership in a particular faith that include abduction, enslavement, and it's very narrowand, again, some
Mr. HAMILTON. So, there is a high thresholdI understand.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF [continuing]. They would then make a finding. There would be an annual report. By April 30 of each year, the Director is required to submit to Congress a report indicating that there is a Category 1 or Category 2 religious persecution occurring
Mr. HAMILTON. In your view, does China then fall in today as a Category 1 country under this bill?
Mr. WOLF. Absolutely.
Mr. HAMILTON. And Sudan, Kuwait, Iran, Indonesia
Mr. WOLF. I'm not prepared to say. Well, I think what Indonesia is doing, in East Timor, 200,000 Catholics have been killed in the last 20 years, out of a population of 700,000. If you would equate that to the United States, that would be like 60 million people in the United States being killed.
My sense is that the activities thereand, frankly, I think the Administration ought to be appointing a special envoy to deal with that issuethe countries that I'm clearI mean, they would have to make the findings, Mr. Hamilton, I'm not making the findings
Mr. HAMILTON. I understand that.
Mr. WOLF. You asked me my own sense today, two that I think the findings would be, certainly one would be Sudan. I think there would be little argument there. Even this Administration, which closed its embassy in downtown Khartoumalthough someone told me they are thinking of reopening the embassy againfound that they should pull the embassy out and close it.
So, I think Sudan certainly
Mr. HAMILTON. OK. With regard to China, which is the other country you mentioned, what kind of sanctions would apply right away?
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF. The prison that was applying the torture would no longer be sold the weapons of torture. Humanitarian assistance would continue, although I'm not sure much goes to China. We would also direct our people to vote against World Bank loans and different things like that.
Mr. HAMILTON. Would you prohibit all exports to responsible entities in the China situation?
Mr. WOLF. Responsible, meaning they are responsible, or they aren't doing it?
Mr. HAMILTON. Well, I'm really just taking the language out of the bill. As you probably know, one of the sanctions is a prohibition on exports relating to religious persecution. I quote, ''The Director finds the occurrence of Category 1 religious persecution, the Director shall so notify the relevant U.S. departments, and such sanctions and agencies shall''no discretion''shall prohibit all exports to the responsible entities.'' I'm not quite sure what responsible entities means here, that's what I'm trying to understand''prohibit the export to that country any persecution facilitating products''I'm trying to understand what that means in terms of, say, China.
Mr. WOLF. You could not export goods to the persecuting entity, if you knew
Mr. HAMILTON. Well, what about to the responsible entities, what does that mean?
Mr. WOLF. That is the prison that the persecution is taking on. If the prison in downtown Lhasa is where the persecution is taking place
Mr. HAMILTON. You would see this, then, as having a very narrow application. In other words, it would not apply generally to exports to China.
Mr. WOLF. That's correct.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HAMILTON. And it would have in terms of economic impact, put aside the religious persecution for a moment, but in terms of economic impact, in your view, this would have a very minimal impact, is that correct?
Mr. WOLF. Yes, that's correct.
Mr. HAMILTON. And are there any other sanctions that would operate with respect to China?
Mr. WOLF. We would restrict U.S. support to international financial institution loans.
Mr. HAMILTON. So China could get no World Bank or IMF loan?
Mr. WOLF. They could still get it, but we would direct our people to vote against the loans.
Mr. HAMILTON. Which, of course, is controlling, if we vote against it.
Mr. WOLF. Not always.
Mr. HAMILTON. Pretty nearly so, isn't it?
Mr. WOLF. Not always.
Mr. HAMILTON. Now, all of these sanctions
Mr. WOLF. We would also, Mr. Hamilton, again, deny visas. If we knew that Colonel Osen of Perm Camp 35 had tortured Sheransky, we certainly would not give Colonel Osen a visa to come into the United States.
Mr. HAMILTON. OK. And so the only two countries, in your mind at the moment, impacted by this bill, if it were enacted into law, are Sudan and China.
Mr. WOLF. That's my own
Mr. HAMILTON. I'm just trying to get
Mr. WOLF.I'm not making the findings
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HAMILTON. I understand that, and I don't mean to pin you down, but I'm just trying to get some idea of the application of this law.
Mr. WOLF [continuing]. And there may be others but, certainly, clearly, you look and there are opportunities to make a report. We were pleased that the Administration did the report that it did. I mean, I think 200,000 Catholics being persecuted in East Timor is certainly something that they should be interested in and dealing with and focusing on.
You said before we would do anything to Indonesia, we would hopefully maybe have a Richard Holbrook to be a special envoy to go and negotiate, to deal, to talk, to do these things. So, you don't move to sanctions right away. What you do is put a spotlight, similar to the State Department report that came out 2 months ago, put the spotlight on these individual countries and the problems.
Mr. HAMILTON. But once the Director makes the finding, then the agencies are mandated to proceed
Mr. WOLF. No, the President has the ability to waive.
Mr. HAMILTON. Only for national security.
Mr. WOLF. Yes.
Mr. HAMILTON. But that's a fairly limited waiver that Presidents don't like to use too much, national security. I mean, there are a lot of other relationships between countries that don't go to the question of national security. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The other point I simply want to pick is something you and I commented on briefly, your definition of religious persecution creates a very high threshold, as I think you acknowledge. In other words, you're talking about abduction, enslavement, killing, imprisonment, rape, resettlement, crucifixion, torture.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are an awful lot of things that a country could do to persecute under this bill, persecute religious practices, which would not be within the purview of the bill at all. For example, you could ban Bibles. You could nail the church door shut. You could require all kinds of subtle financial controls, registration and all the rest of it. None of that would be impacted, as I understand it.
Mr. WOLF. That's correct.
Mr. HAMILTON. You're really aiming at the worst instances of religious persecution.
Mr. WOLF. That's correct, with the idea, too, that by dealing with them, there is a spillover to deal with the other issues, but we do narrow the interpretation down to deal with the most egregious things.
Chairman GILMAN. The gentleman's time has expired. Mr. Lantos.
Mr. LANTOS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will not repeat my very genuine praise for my friend from Virginia because he deserves our fullest appreciation and respect in the field of human rights. But I would like to raise some questions that concern me concerning specifics of this legislation.
As I was listening to your dialog with Mr. Hamiltoncorrect me if I am wrong, Mr. Wolfyou said that this legislation would have no impact on Saudi Arabia?
Mr. WOLF. No, I didn't say that. What I said washe asked me what two countries did I think clearly would, and Sudan was the first one. Personally, I would be much tougher than maybe others, but I'm not the Director of the office and am not making findings. So, I am not making findings as to what country would have to be touched by this, that would be done by the office in the White House. And that was my answer.
Mr. LANTOS. I understand the office doesn't yet exist, and the legislation has not yet passed, but we are discussing hypothetical situations, and I have difficulty visualizing legislation that deals with religious persecution that would not have an immediate impact on Saudi Arabia.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But leaving that issue apart, I'd like to talk a little bit, if I may, of homonyms because we are basically dealing with reorganizing the President's immediate staff and White House entourage.
Having devoted much of my time and energy in this body to human rights, I must say I have not yet worked with an Assistant Secretary for this field who has been more effective and more hands-on than Secretary Shattuck.
Now, I also believe that the Secretary fully enjoys Madeleine Albright's confidence, and I have difficulty seeing and in what manner a new entity in the White House would more effectively promote human rights than what we see at the moment in the persons of Secretaries Albright and Shattuck?
Let me state for the record the obvious, that, unlike some others on this Committee, I have taken a position strongly opposed to that of the Administration on many human rights issues, including of course the issue of China, where you and several of us on this Committee have opposed the Administration's policies.
But those policies were basically set by the President, and I opposed the President, and will continue to oppose the President, whenever we provide MFN treatment, for instance, to clear violators of human rights such as China.
I have difficulty seeing what a new office within the White House would do that the Secretary of State and the Assistant Secretary for Human Rights are unable to do at the moment. Clearly, the Director of this office would not be a member of the President's Cabinet. Secretary Albright is. Therefore, it would seem to me the Secretary of State, if he or she is so inclined, can fight for human rights as effectively as any other individual in the Administration.
And I have some serious reservations about micromanaging the White House staff which this legislation, it would seem to me, clearly does. It creates a position which would have a strange, undefied, ill-defined nebulous relationship to both the Department of State and the Assistant Secretary currently in charge of this issue.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would be most grateful, Congressman Wolf, if you could clear away my doubts.
Mr. WOLF. Sure. Thank you, Mr. Lantos. Two things. One, back to the Saudi issue so we don't leave that because it's a very important issue. The bill would direct them to look at China, Vietnam, Sudan, Cuba, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, North Korea, Indonesia, Egypt and Laos. That is specified in the bill, so the Saudi situation would be looked at.
I think Secretary Albright is amazingly great on this issue. I think Secretary Christopher was terrible on this issue. Secretary Albright will not always be there. John Shattuck will not always be there. You institutionalize it in the White House.
I worked for a Cabinet officer years ago, who used to get calls from 25- and 26-year-old individuals in the White House telling him what to do. There were Assistant Secretariesone I remember in 1972when all the people were hailing four more years for Richard Nixon. Then they were invited to all tender their letters of resignation 2 days after the big victory in 1972.
One Assistant Secretary that I know went over to the White House on the good going-away party to say goodbye, and Nixon didn't even know that he had resigned, didn't even know what was going on.
By having that individual physically in the White House, it sends a messageit sends a message that this is important. Maybe the President is not going to see them every day, but he may see them as he walks by the White House mess. It's easier for him or her to be at the meeting. When they sit around the table, that person hopefully will be called in and won't have to come across from downtown. And Democratic Administrations are no better than Republican Administrations, many times if White House staff doesn't want somebody to come over from the Secretary of Defense or State or wherever the case, they do not come.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, I believe by having them in the White House, from my own personal experience, I think that would do more to send a message to countries around the world that this country is very, very sincere.
No reflection at all. I told John Shattuck that if he left and were covered by the ethics laws, I would support waiving it whereby he could go out and work for a human rights group. I think Shattuck is a very good guy. I think Mrs. Albright is. I think the policies under the Christopher Administration were terrible.
So, it's personality, and I think by location in the White House you do more to heighten the sensitivity whereby they cannot ignore the issue and ignore that person.
Mr. LANTOS. Wouldn't you agree that, if the President appoints an individual as Secretary of State who is committed to the issue of human rights, that is by far our best guarantee that human rights will play a significant role in the foreign policy of the Administration?
Mr. WOLF. Yes, I agree. Having somebody appointed in the White House or in the State Department, but in the White House certainly would beI think the President's person involved in that would make a big difference, and I agree with you there.
Mr. LANTOS. Congressman Wolf, there is another arena I'd like to explore with you, and that is the hierarchy of human rights concerns. Let me hypothesize that there is a country where there is religious persecution, but there is persecution far more intense for reasons other than religion. This is not an unusual situation, there are lots of instances where persecution is overwhelmingly predicated on ethnic criteria, on racial criteria, on linguistic criteria, rather than on religious criteria.
Isn't there a danger that we are establishing in this legislation religion as somehow a unique entity, the persecution of which deserves more severe penalties than the persecution or restriction of any other human right?
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WOLF. I do not think that is the case. I think religious freedom and democracy go hand-in-hand.
Mr. LANTOS. Well, press freedom and democracy also go hand-in-hand, and if you have a government which tolerates the expression of religious freedom but restricts the freedom of the press, it would seem to me that we as a society and we as a government should be just as concerned about the restriction of press freedom as we should be concerning the restriction of religious freedom.
Mr. WOLF. I share your concern, and if the Committee, in its wisdom, were to strengthen the bill, that would be fine. We do target, and we go back to the definition, when the persecution includes abduction, enslavement, imprisonment, killing, forced mass resettlement, rape, torture, including crucifixion, we have attempted to narrowly define it. But, clearly, if there is not freedom of press, that's terrible. If there's not freedom of movement, that's terrible.
This goes to the fundamental core in a narrow way, but if the Committee wanted to broaden it, that certainly would be fine with me. My sense is that to broaden it too much more would not get that much sympathy in this Congress. But if the Committee wanted to broaden it, I would certainly not have any objection to that.
Mr. LANTOS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Lantos. Mr. Wolf, I want to thank you for your time and your patience, and your suggestions. One question, our time is running.
Mr. BERMAN. We're not coming back?
Chairman GILMAN. Not on Mr. Wolf, we're coming back for Mr. Shattuck.
Mr. BERMAN. Will there be other witnesses who are supporting the legislation, who can maybe on behalf of Mr. Wolf and others, speak to the specifics?
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman GILMAN. There are ten other witnesses who will come in tomorrow, and some of them will be speaking in support of this legislation.
Mr. BERMAN. I was wondering if there was a chancethere are a couple more issues
Chairman GILMAN. Why don't you submit them in writing, and Mr. Wolf can answer them.
Mr. WOLF. I'll talk to you after the next vote, Howard.
Chairman GILMAN. The Committee will stand in recess. When we come back, Assistant Secretary Shattuck will be our next witness.
The Committee stands in recess.
Mr. SMITH. [Now presiding] The Committee will resume and, just for the record, Mr. Gilman, chairman of the Full Committee, will return shortly, but he has asked that we reconvene.
Assistant Secretary Shattuck, we welcome you to the full Committee and thank you in advance for your testimony, and look forward to your comments. Please proceed as you wish.
STATEMENT OF HONORABLE JOHN SHATTUCK, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR
Secretary SHATTUCK. Thank you very much, Mr. Smith. It's a pleasure to be here this morning to testify before so many strong supporters of human rights, on whom this Administration so often depends for support and leadership in this field.
The issue of religious freedom is a very high priority for this Administration both at home and abroad. We share your deep interest in engaging the United States in a global effort to prevent religious persecution, and we agree with you that more needs to be done.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me say just a brief personal word at the outset. I thank Mr. Lantos for his very kind remarks. I have spent the last 3 years spotlighting issues of human rights abuse around the world, and in no area has it been more important than the area of religious persecution.
I've traveled, as has Mr. Wolf, to Tibet and China. I've met with a wide variety of persons suffering persecution, and had the opportunity to appear in a pulpit of a house church. I've been to Indonesia, to East Timor. I've traveled through Croatia. I've been some 20 times to Bosnia in the effort to try to bring the horrors of that terrible conflict that is so heavily driven by religious persecution to an end. I've been to Northern Ireland. I've been to Egypt. And I've sent my staff to Sudan and Vietnam. These are many of the places where deep concerns about religious persecution are appropriate, and they are deep concerns of this Administration.
President Clinton declared in his proclamation of Religious Freedom Day in January of this year, that ''America's commitment to religious tolerance has empowered us to achieve an atmosphere of understanding, trust, and respect in a society of diverse cultures and religious traditions. And today, much of the world still looks to the United States as the champion of religious liberty.'' There is no country that is more actively engaged in the effort to promote religious freedom around the world than the United States.
This is a bedrock issue for the American people. We are well aware of the deep concerns among the American people on this issue, and the deep interest in its pursuit. We were, in fact, founded, in large part, by people who fled religious persecution and intolerance.
Religious freedom is not only an American value, it is a universally recognized human right. As Secretary Albright has so eloquently said, ''Our commitment to religious liberty is even more than the expression of American ideals, it is a fundamental source of our strength in the world. We simply could not lead without it, we would be naive to think that we could advance our interests without it.''
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The President and Secretary Albright have made the issue of religious freedom a priority for the United States in our foreign policy. I'd like to set out a few of the examples of what we are doing to implement this commitment at the beginning of my testimony. Then I'll move to some discussion of the bill and our strong desire to work with this Committee and with Members of the Congress to enhance our national commitment to religious freedom.
Secretary Albright, in a series of unprecedented worldwide cables, has instructed all U.S. embassies to give greater attention to religious freedom both in their reporting and in their advocacy. This means, in practical terms, that the Secretary of State is telling State Department employees and foreign governments alike that religious liberty is a key component of our human rights policy. We are spotlighting abuses of religious freedom all over the world.
The State Department now reports, for the first time, extensively on religious persecution in our Annual Country Reports which spotlights 194 countries. This year we issued an additional unprecedented report on ''U.S. Policies in Support of Religious Freedom: Focus on Christians,'' which for the first time details recent U.S. Government actions taken in 78 countries on behalf of persecuted Christians and followers of other faiths around the world in recent years. I would like to have this submitted for the record.(see footnote 1)
Last year, the President and the Secretary created an advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, composed of 20 distinguished religious, academic, and advocacy leaders. The Committee and its subgroups have held extensive hearings and meetings on both religious persecution and religious reconciliation and are now preparing policy recommendations to the President and the Secretary about further steps that the United States could take throughout our foreign policy to combat persecution.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Promotion of religious freedom was a central element of our efforts at the 1997 U.N. Human Rights Commission. The U.S. delegation led the way on the issues of religious freedom, negotiating the adoption of a resolution against religious intolerance and discrimination. This resolution again signaled to the countries of the world the significance of this issue. We continue our firm support for the mandate of the U.N. special rapporteur on religious intolerance. We've also worked in other settings, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a major multilateral instrument for calling to account and challenging governments in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union to uphold standards and raise particular cases of concern, which we have done repeatedly.
We also strongly support religious reconciliation and interfaith cooperation in countries torn by conflict. Consistent leadership by this Secretary and the President has been critical to maintaining the peace processes in areas of terrible religious turmoil in the former Yugoslavia, in Northern Ireland, and of course now most poignantly and powerfully in the Middle Eastand, of course, I'm sure we all wish the Secretary well as she departs on this mission.
Through the Voice of America, our foreign broadcasting promotes religious freedom in China, Tibet, Burma, Vietnam, and other places where persecution has occurred at the hands of authoritarian regimes. Of course, we do so in the languages of those countries.
We also recognize the importance of the private sector and are promoting model business principles among U.S. businesses to underscore that human rights and religious freedom, on the one hand, and economic development on the other, are complementary, not contradictory. This year we gave our first Best Global Practices Award to a person who was active in the release of individuals detained and imprisoned in China for exercising their freedom of religion and free expression.
In short, Mr. Chairman, we are treating religious liberty as a foreign policy priority. We seek to respond to the call for action by Americans of every faith and belief on behalf of those who are being persecuted around the world.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me just very quickly review for you, because I think it's very important for the purposes of this hearing and the legislation you are considering, what foreign policy tools and instruments that we use now to combat religious persecution, responding to the President's commitment to make religious liberty a mainstream element of our foreign policy.
We use assistance programs to support NGO's, to support efforts to bring about religious reconciliation and freedom. We use broadcasting, as I said a moment ago, through the Voice of America Radio Free Asia. We use a spotlighting technique which is so central, of course, to the intent of this legislation, of issuing reports and publicly criticizing governments that abuse religious freedom. We engage in specific diplomatic interventions in cases on behalf of persons imprisoned in China and Vietnam and other countries for exercising their religious freedom. And in cases of policy which would have severe negative implications for religious freedom as in the case of Russia, which has been considering legislation that would be so damaging to religious freedom in that country, where the President and others have so directly engaged in the effort to urge Russia not to enact such legislation.
We've used multilateral action not only through the U.N. Human Rights Committee but through other multilateral organizations. We have used selective negative measuresthe withdrawal of aid; the use, where appropriate, of visa restrictions; small arms restrictions; and in those extreme cases where all else fails we have used sanctions carefully tailored to that country. But we have been very careful to look at each country on its own, in light of a wide variety of actions and interests in that country so that we can actually pursue the cause that we all so ardently are interested in.
With that background, Mr. Chairman, let me turn now to H.R. 1685, and let me say at the outset that the Administration strongly supports the objectives of the legislation, of eliminating religious persecution. But we believe that the current draft of the bill would frustrate these and other objectives and, for this reason, we oppose the legislation in its current form. In particular, we fear that it is a blunt instrument to a number of questions. As indicated from others this morning, the one-size-fits-all approach with an automatic imposition of sanctions is more likely to harm rather than aid the victims of religious persecution. We believe that if it were to be enacted, the bill would run the risk of harming vital bilateral relations with key allies and regional powers in such areas as the Middle East and others where we are seeking to promote peace and reconciliation as a way of advancing religious freedom.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We believe that the bill would create a confusing bureaucratic structure for dealing with religious persecution. At the very time that we are working closely in the State Department to improve the overall situation this bill would create yet another bureaucratic center for doing this.
We are committed to strengthening and improving our new structures, the ones that I've been describing. We are prepared for serious discussions with the Committee about ways to reinforce these structures, including by the development of legislation to further enhance our efforts to promote religious freedom. But I want to make very clear that there are a variety of ways in which we feel that this legislation, as currently drafted, would not only not serve the purposes that it was set out to serve but, in fact, could severely damage the very cause of religious freedom and other aspects that are vital to our foreign affairs.
Let me set out in some detail the basis for our concerns.
First, and most importantly from our perspective, the bill could harm the very people it seeks to help, those facing religious persecution in both categories of countriesthat is, those in countries where the government is responsible, and also in other countries where interreligious conflict and various societal pressures may be the cause of persecution.
It runs the risk of strengthening the hands of government and extremists who seek to incite religious intolerance. In particular, we fear reprisals by repressive governments against victims as well as an end to any dialog on religious freedom in retaliation for the sanctions that the bill would automatically impose.
The provision that automatically sanctions governments for failure to take adequate action against private acts of persecution is also troubling. Many governments that fail to combat societal religious persecution are simply too unstable or too weak to control extremists, insurgents, terrorists, and those inciting societal religious persecution, and we believe that imposing punitive sanctions on weak governments would only play into the hands of those very elements that are persecuting and that are perpetrating the persecution.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To deal effectively with those kinds of countries, our laws must allow us to help those weak transitional governments check extremist forces and protect victims from further persecution.
The bill would mandate a wide variety of sanctions against governments that engage in officially sponsored religious persecution or that fail to combat societal religious persecution. But our laws and policies now already give significant weight to human rights and our opposition to persecution. For that reason, the United States provides little direct assistance to such governments. The imposition of automatic sanctions, therefore, would have little effect on government-sponsored religious persecution in most countries, but would make a productive human rights dialog with sanctioned governments far more difficult, or even impossible.
Second, the bill would createand here we are particularly concerneda de facto hierarchy of human rights violations under U.S. law that could severely damage our efforts to ensure that all aspects of basic civil and political rights, including religious freedom, are protected.
The bill would differentiate between acts motivated by religious discrimination, and similar acts based on other forms of repression or bias, such as denial of political freedom, or racial, or ethnic hatredwhich, of course, has been the cause of so much terrible human rights abuse in our era.
In doing so, the bill, in fact, would legislate a hierarchy of human rights into our laws. Certain deplorable acts would result in automatic sanctions when connected to religion, but not in other cases. As a consequence, our ability to promote the full range of basic rights and fundamental freedoms would be compromised.
I think this Committee is well aware that there are some governments and their apologists, who are engaged in a dangerous and insidious campaign to devalue human rights, to say that they are not universal. They are arguing that respect for economic rights should be preeminent and that all the other rights are less important. Those advancing this argument have often sought to justify a government's failure to provide basic political freedom, freedom of expression, simply an association of religious freedom, by claiming that economic development must precede respect for civil and political rights.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think you are aware that Secretary Albright forcefully rebutted that argument when she heard from Prime Minister Mahatier at the conference recently in Kuala-Lumpur. The United States has long resisted these attempts to create a hierarchy of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, and we should not yield to the temptation to do so now.
Third, the bill takes a one-size-fits-all approach to religious persecution. It would provide no flexibility to tailor our policies to differing circumstances in different countries. Following a finding of persecution by the Director of Religious Persecution Monitoringand that finding would not have to be made with any specific input from the Secretary of State or the National Security Advisor or any other element of our foreign affairs, or indeed from the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rightssanctions would be automatic.
The mechanics of imposition appear designed to make sanctions more likely to be imposed, cumbersome to waive, and difficult to terminate. Their effectiveness as a means of influencing policy would be sharply limited for that reason.
The President would only have a very narrow ability to waive the sanctions for periods of up to 1 year, and he couldn't do so until a period after they'd been imposed because the first element of them are automatic for 45 days. This stringent standard would appear to shut the door on any consideration of U.S. foreign and domestic policy interests that do not rise to the level of a direct threat to our national security, such as other human rights concerns, or regional peacemaking and stability, or environmental protection, or law enforcement, or any number of other very significant aspects of our foreign affairs. But I emphasize that other human rights concerns would be also not able to meet the standard of national security interest.
Fourth, the bill would create a new and unnecessary bureaucracy which would duplicate and possibly undercut the function of the Secretary of State herself by the creation of an office within the Executive Office of the President and subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By creating the position of Director, the bill would duplicate existing State Department functions including promoting religious freedom in all the ways that I've outlined earlier. I think the Secretary herself is best situated to report and advise the President on religious persecution abroad. The State Department's reporting channels and the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices represent the most accurate method to obtain information. Determinations that affect fundamental aspects of our foreign policy in very critical parts of the world, including those regarding sanctions, should be made by the President with the assistance of the Secretary of State and other relevant individuals, not by a director of a new specialized office which has no other foreign affairs expertise or responsibility.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman, in consultation with the Chairman, he will not be able to stay all that much longer. If you could just summarize, and we will put your whole statement in.
Secretary SHATTUCK. Sure. I'm just about finished. There is a fifth point that I just want to put on the record, which is we are committed to mainstreaming religious freedom in our foreign policy, and we fear that this legislation would marginalize religious freedom by putting it in a special place in the White House and not giving it other aspects of support.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by repeating that we welcome the opportunity to work with the Committee and the rest of the Congress to fashion legislation that will underscore and strengthen the commitment of the United States to promote religious freedom.
Through the President and the Secretary we have made it crystal clear that this issue is a foreign policy priority. I think we need to be clear ourselves that we do not have all the answers, nor can we assert that the United States alone has the power to bring about an end to religious persecution, but we can keep faith with those millions, indeed, billions of people around the globe, and millions of our fellow citizens, by making the effort to work in the most effective way. We believe this bill, as currently drafted at the moment, is not the most effective way to combat persecution now victimizing so many people of faith around the world. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman GILMAN. Thank you, Secretary Shattuck. I'm frank to say that all of your objections of this bill leave something to be desired. You're talking about the increased bureaucracy, the marginalization of the issue, you're worried about a blunt instrument. Sure, it's a blunt instrument. We want a blunt instrument. We want people to sit up and take notice that we're concerned about religious persecution. And you talked about the risk of challenge. Sure, it will be challenged, and we welcome those challenges, and we want to make certain that we're going to make other countries sit up and take notice of what they should be doing with regard to religious freedom.
We have sanctions laws in place regarding narcotics cooperation, nuclear proliferation, chemical and biological weapon proliferation, missile proliferation, trade with countries like Iran, and the list goes on and on. These laws are also blunt instruments, but they were signed into law by the President and his predecessors, and they seem to be working in most instances. Why do you feel that religious persecution is not such a serious problem that warrants its own sanctions regime, or does your criticism of sanctions as a blunt instrument lead you to favor the repeal of all those other sanction laws? I'd welcome your thoughts.
Secretary SHATTUCK. Mr. Chairman, the approach that is taken in the bill would go beyond virtually all the other sanctions regimes that we know of. Let me start by saying that there are very important laws on the books right now, and those laws may need some improvement. Section 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act, and other legislation that specifically refers to gross violations of human rights are, indeed, the basis, in many instances, for much of the human rights work that we do around the world. They are certainly the basis for decisions that are made to not extend assistance to particular countries, if any of them are the countries that do abuse religious freedom.
So, we may need to tighten those laws. But establishing an entirely separate automatic approach resulting in the imposition of sanctions with no input from any other department, including the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor, if there were a finding made by the Director of the Monitoring Office, is not comparable.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the Senate even today is considering, for example, the narcotics sanctions provisions and looking at perhaps the need to adjust them. But narcotics are very different from societal discrimination in the Category 2 cases that we're talking about here, where there are tremendous ranges of possibilities.
There are 78 countries within the report that we have prepared that have various problems of religious freedom denial. I wouldn't want to presume which of them the new Director of the office might decide were appropriate for sanctions.
Chairman GILMAN. Well, Mr. Secretary, you are aware there is a waiver provision in this measure for national security purposes, and that the new Director is an appointee of the President, so the President would have some direct control of this office. And the waiver gives a certain amount of flexibility.
Secretary SHATTUCK. The waiver is very narrow. It's a national security waiver. National security waivers are not invocable except when the direct security of the United States is affected. And as for the Presidential appointment, it's certainly trueof course, it would be subject to confirmation by the Senateand, at the same time, the decisionmaking of that office would be separate from and totally outside of the channels for the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor.
Chairman GILMAN. I might add, that's not a narrow definition, it's a general waiver for national security purposes. And it gives a broad definition.
Secretary SHATTUCK. There are, of course, other waiver provisions in other aspects of laws on national interests which tend to be broader. But even with the broader waiver, I think we're looking at a severe, very narrow framework within which decisions get made by a single entity. The result could be the very violation of religious freedom and persecution that we all want to stop in those countries that might retaliate.
Chairman GILMAN. Well, we want to stop it, we want to focus more attention on it, that's why we're creating a new office to focus attention on it. We want to make certain that there will be teeth in the legislation. And I would hope that your office would take another look at all of this to see what we could do working together to make it an effective piece of legislation.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You complained about it being bureaucratic, and yet on the other hand you talk about adding personnel to your other offices to try to make it more effective. So, on the one hand you say let's not be bureaucratic and the other hand you're saying let's expand the bureaucracy. I don't understand your thesis that this will marginalize human rights. It's going to focus attention on human rights and religious problems.
You know, we met with the President of China recently. He said, ''Your definition of human rights is different than ours. I have over a billion people I've got to feed and clothe.'' It sounded remarkably similar to when we heard that coming out of the Soviet Union, when they had the same definition of human rights, comparing it to ours.
So, I'm going to urge that you take another look at it. You say that the more tyrannical regimes would retaliate against the victims. Don't you believe that at some point we say enough is enough, and that through legislation of this nature we try to correct all of that.
I'm going to declare our Committee in recess. Mr. Smith will be returning to conduct the balance of the hearing. Thank you for being here, Mr. Shattuck.
Mr. SMITH. [Now presiding] The Committee will come back to order. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Let me ask you a couple of questions, if I could.
First of all, you've testified that the bill also runs the risk of harming vital bilateral relations with key allies. I wonder if you might tell us what key allies are so abusing their religious individuals, people who are believers, that they might be affected by this legislation, especially, as you know, religious persecution as defined includes such things as abduction, enslavement, killing, imprisonment, forced mass resettlement, rape, or crucifixion or other forms of torture.
Who are these allies that might be put at risk of losing their relationship with the United States?
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary SHATTUCK. Well, obviously, that's a determination that, under the bill would be up to the new Director of the Office of Religious Persecution Monitoring. We put out a report in January on 193 countries that covered religious freedom in all of those countries. Then, working very closely with the Congress, we did a further report that received a lot of praise. I was pleased to appear before you to discuss this report and the 78 countries which have real problems of a religious freedom nature.
Now, this legislation defines religious persecution to include all the matters that you mentioned, all the most egregious issues, and it's quite appropriate. In some ways, there are other issues, but imprisonment, torture, forced mass resettlementI think there are plenty of candidates for the findings that would be made. And, indeed, all of those candidates need the spotlight of our advocacy. In other words, we need to really address the crisis of persecution in those situations. And I've just outlined how we're trying to go about doing that.
All of those countries need to be engaged in various different ways. And some of the most egregious violators, such as Iran or Iraq, have been subject to sanctions. But, certainly, you know, many of the Middle East alliesthose very countries which Secretary Albright is tonight going out to talk to, would interpret the bill, I think, as a potential attack on Islam, regardless of whether they're engaged in religious persecution. I don't think it's intended to be that, but I think they might think that because there is a finding in the legislation that there is a disproportionate amount of persecution in that region. And I'm not saying that there isn't a great deal of persecution, and we need to address it.
Mr. SMITH. Could you say if there is or there isn't, say, in Saudi Arabia?
Secretary SHATTUCK. I'd say there isand, indeed, we said in our report that there was. We were very candid about it.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Is there likely to be a candidate for the sanctions envisioned by this bill?
Secretary SHATTUCK. I can't possibly read the mind of the person who might be appointed to this position, but he would
Mr. SMITH. Just take a snapshot as to where we are right now.
Secretary SHATTUCK.I think the important thing is that he would have the authority, without any further consultation, to find a country a Category 1 or Category 2 violator, and that would impose automatic sanctions.
Mr. SMITH. Let me ask youin your statement, you talk aboutand I think it has the makings of a straw-man argumentthat hierarchy of human rights violations isn't necessarily a bad thing. In previous days, we have prioritized, set up a hierarchy of human rights concerns and that which is sanctionable, when we wanted to focus on a particular abuse. We did it with Jackson-Vanik as it relates to immigration. We did it with apartheid, we're talking country-specific, when we did it with South Africa. And it seems to me, especially when there's juxtaposition in your testimony about those countries that are talking about economic rights, I don't know where that comes in here because that's an issue we've been fighting with first the Soviets and now with some of the Asian countries, and we'll continue fighting that issue, but there is a universally recognized definition of what constitutes basic fundamentals of core human rights, and religious freedom is among them, and it seems to me that having, at this particular time, when there are so many abuses, when they are on the rise, particularly in some of the Middle Eastern countries with the rise of radical Islamic belief, particularly in the continued Communist regimes like Vietnam and the PRC, that it behooves us to lend a handand this is a very modest piece of legislation in my viewto help those who are struggling with their own governments, to say we mean business.
So, rather than marginalize, I don't think a poor choice of words could be chosen, in my humble view, to say that we are marginalizing when we're prioritizing. I mean, that doesn't mean that all the other human rights don't continue to get full-court press. When we went after the apartheid government, that didn't diminish other human rights concerns that any of us had, it said that is so egregious we're going to do something about it. Now we're talking about something that has gotten short shrift for so many years, and it's about time we hyped it and got it from the bottom of the barrel up to where it's at least more visible.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary SHATTUCK. Well, there are several points on that, Mr. Chairman. I think the issue of religious freedom is so integrally related, I know you would agree, with basic political freedom, and freedom from repression. The ability to speak and move and associate with others, is absolutely at the center of the effort to protect religious freedom. They are all part and parcel of the same.
What the legislation would do is to take those categories that you read out earlier, including imprisonment and forced resettlement and the likeand only in the instance where there is a religious persecution motivation would those categories of abuse be subject to these kinds of automatic sanctions.
Now, we want to get at those abuses, to be sure, but we certainly don't want to signal to the world that it's OK to put someone in prison for political reasons, or that we're not going to be as seriously concerned about that as we are in the case of people who are persecuted for religious reasons.
In the case of the Jackson-Vanik approach which was used for the Soviet Union in the period when it was the Soviet Union, I would say that's a perfect example of a carefully tailored one-country effort which involved decisionmaking on the part of a wide variety of people.
Mr. SMITH. Jackson-Vanik applies to other nations as well.
Secretary SHATTUCK. No, I understand. But it involved a wide variety of decisions and involvement by the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and the Congress, et cetera, in reaching that conclusion. This is a basic one-office trigger which does the job.
In the case of South Africa, the entire complex of human rights abuses were occurring in South Africa. Certainly apartheid was at the heart of it, but so was the basic denial of all aspects of religious freedom and political freedom.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Racial discrimination was the cutting issue just like in this case religious freedom can be the cutting issue to assist freedom of speech and assembly and the others.
Secretary SHATTUCK. And the reason those sanctions were effective was that they were multilateral. They were sanctions that were imposed after very careful work by a lot of countries. But here we have a one-size-fits-all approach.
Mr. SMITH. I know that statement is going to be said over and over, just like blunt instrument, so that the press will pick it up and say it's a one-size-fits-all, but in all candor, to suggest that we're marginalizing when we're upgrading the issue is ludicrous on its face and, you know, if it comes to freedom of religion or freedom of assembly, for instance, and speech, freedom of religion could become the icebreaker and the cutting edge to help assist those others.
I don't see any diminution in our laws or policies as it relates to other human rights in this bill. This is just saying we want to give an assist, a helping hand to those who are suffering this kind of abuse because it has been largely ignored through both Democratic and Republican Administrations in the past.
Secretary SHATTUCK. And we want to work with you, and we are working with you, as you know, to highlight and spotlight and mainstream these issues in our foreign policy.
The point I was making about marginalizing was not about the issue, it was about the bureaucracy. The problem is, we create an office, put it in the White House, disconnect it, for all practical purposes, from the rest of the whole foreign affairs activity. That marginalizes it. If anybody thinks that by virtue of being in the White House they are going to necessarily have a greater impact on foreign affairs decisionmaking
Mr. SMITH. Let me just ask, drug interdiction and efforts to mitigate drug abuse in the country really was assisted when there was one person, a drug czar, that took over the helm, or took the reins.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Are you suggesting that being in proximity to the White House, being at the White House, will not advance religious freedom?
Secretary SHATTUCK. No. We are certainly willing to work with the Committee and the Congress to find ways of enhancing and expanding those elements of our foreign affairs agencies charged with working on these issues, and creating more of a spotlight by doing that. But we do not believe that the way to do it is to put one person who is disconnected from the rest of the foreign affairs world into the White House. I think that person would be marginalized as a result.
Mr. SMITH. Let me just say in terms of your statement on page 9, about many governments that fail to combat silent religious persecution are simply too weak and unstable to control extremists, and so on. The language in the bill says ''serious and sustained''. There is a national security waiver in the bill, as we all know. But ''serious and sustained'' is in the eye of the beholder. And if they are a weak government and don't have the capability of solving the problem, as long as they are making an effort and it is serious and it's sustained, it seems to me that would fit.
I mean, we had a hearing on anti-semitism in the former Soviet Union last year in this room, and one of the biggest complaints we heard over and over again wasn't that the government was doing it, is that it had become privatized, raising the question then, what is the government doing, as relevant to this bill, to Category 2, what are they doing to mitigate this abuse of letting the surrogates do it.
And, again, I think you overstate how this would hurt some small, weak, and perhaps insignificant, government as long as they are making a serious effort, as long as they are making an effort. So, I think that's an overstatement again on your part. Do you want to respond?
Secretary SHATTUCK. Yes. I think the concern that we have about Category 2 is, frankly, that it is quite vague. In so many of the countries that you and I have visited, where religious persecution is rampant, religious persecution is not necessarily caused by government. Those situationswhere one religion may be pitted against another; or where an extremist group may be trying to make a move on the government, trying to embarrass the government by persecuting or, indeed, killing large numbers of members of a minority religionare very complicated.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All of these issues present almost impossible tasks for a weak government to address. If there is any power available to this new Director of the Office of Persecution Monitoring to impose sanctions based on these findings, there is an uncertainty as to how that power might be exercised.
Now, having said all that, I want to keep repeating that we look forward to working with you to sharpen this. These are the problems, I think, that are presented by this bill.
Mr. SMITH. Let me just ask one final question. Suggesting that somehow there would be a backlash against religious believers almost proves too much that if we were to take action, we so fear a retaliatory action with these so-called allies that we are providing this aid to, that we would do nothing. I mean, I'm not sure whythat argument, I don't think, has much currency in my view, and maybe you want to expand upon why you think it does.
But if we don't take effective actionagain, this has waivers in it. It's a judgment call, yes. The definition is, these things are pretty terrible things that would be committed against believers in order to trigger this.
Secretary SHATTUCK. Well, we need to use that full range of tools that I outlined in my testimony. We've got to be free, with your input, and with the involvement of the new structures that are beginning to emerge in our State Department and elsewhere in our foreign policy apparatus, to work on religious freedom. And I'm referring here to the Religious Advisory Committee and the prospect that additional positions could be created. But we've got to be free to address these problems of religious persecution in ways that fit the particular circumstances of a country and, again, if there were to be this finding of persecution as defined in the bill, there is nothing to stop the imposition of those sanctions right away. And I can tell you, they will make it more difficult to engage, much more difficult than now is the case.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me give you maybe one example, not to say that this country is necessarily a candidate for the kind of sanctions contemplated by the billbut I've spent a lot of time in Indonesia. I was in Indonesia in March, and there are terrible problems of religious conflict, as you well know, you visited as well, between Muslims and Catholics in the Madan area around Indonesia. There is also the crisis in East Timor which is a very grave one.
Now, one of the things I was able to do in my visit to Indonesia was to begin to bring together some of theand it was certainly not myself alone, there were various others who were doing this as wellbring together the various religious leaders, some of whom were quite close to the government, to begin to develop some reconciliation in Madan where this terrible killing was going on.
At the same time I made my third trip to East Timor. We are trying to work very closely with the United Nations to enhance this peace process in East Timor to resolve that terrible human rights crisis. We're working with the Government of Indonesia and with those on East Timor whose rights are being violated by the Government of Indonesia. All of that would be, frankly, blown up, if the Director of Religious Persecution Monitoring made a findingand there are some very severe things going on in Indonesia, so it would be well within his authority to do thatthat sanctions needed to be imposed. It just wouldn't help.
Mr. SMITH. Finally, just let me make a point that I believe that beefing up our concern for religious freedomand I did say this earlierthat it does not diminish our respect, our policy. There's not a comma, semicolon, sentence changed with regards to other human rights enforcement or policy, and if others would like to beef up other areas of human rights enforcement, the field is wide open. I think we would all welcome that. So, again, this hierarchy issue, I do think, is a straw man's argument.
If you look at another venue, proliferation, when we focused on nuclear weapons, that doesn't mean that we care less about chemical weapons, that maybe we're going on a parallel track, same with conventional arms. Just because you're trying to help in one area doesn't mean you diminish what you're doing in another area, and that's my point.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I think, again, this has been a long-neglected area of issue concern, again, for Republican and Democratic Administrations. So, I would hope you would reconsider your opposition to the bill. Mr. Lantos.
Mr. LANTOS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is a very peculiar discussion for us because often in this Committee there are very sharp delineations among members on various issues. This happens not to be one of those cases. You have unanimity on this Committee, and I presume in the Congress, in being irrevocably opposed to religious persecution. I don't think there is a person in this body who is not on the same side of this fence, which gives me pause because this raises the question as to why we are handling this legislation on an emergency basis.
This dialog today certainly should give all of us pause with respect to running immediately into markup as if the train would be about to depart unless we act by Thursday afternoon.
And, of course, it should give those who are the most vehement proponents of this legislationit should give them some pause that some of the strongest advocates of the fight against religious persecution have serious doubts and questions and reservations about the manner in which this legislation is being drafted.
One of the things which I find so disturbing in the legislation is that it does, in fact, establish a hierarchy of human rights concerns when, in point of fact, that hierarchy needs to be rejected since almost every single one of the human rights violators as countries have different emphases as to what they wish to suppress most diligently.
At a formally structured level, Ceausescu of Romania allowed a great deal of religious freedom, but it was one of the most despicable totalitarian regimes since the end of the Second World War.
There are some human rights activists who are agnostics, but who passionately fight for press freedom or political freedom. What about the whole issue of women's rights? Imagine a society where there is one predominant or almost exclusive religion which relegates women to a secondary position. This religion is freely exercised. There is no religious persecution, except all women in this society are second-class citizens.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, should that not be a prime concern of the Congress of the United States in dealing with the human rights problem in that country? Isn't it misplaced under those circumstances, to focus in on religious freedom when, in point of fact, religious freedom in that context may well exist, but the persecution of women co-exists simultaneously?
I must say that the more I study and think about this legislation as currently drafted, the more serious my concerns and my reservations. And I think that if there is any single piece of legislation that we consider this year or next where we should have unanimity, certainly within the human rights community, let alone in the Congress as a whole, it is the question of religious persecution.
So, I would like to make a plea to my friends on the other side of the aisleand I think they are all on the other side of the aislenot to rush this legislation because, if you do, some of your best allies in the human rights community will have to take issue with you, and may have to propose amendment after amendment and may, in the final analysis, be compelled to vote against the legislation. So, I think it's important that we pause and sit down and very carefully discuss all of the ramifications.
I also find the micromanaging of the White House office in this respect extremely disturbing. U.S. foreign policy is clearly the prime responsibility of the President. His chief vicar is the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State, under our present structure, has an Assistant Secretary dealing with these issues. And I find this White House office disconnected from all other foreign policy considerations, from nuclear proliferation to international terrorism, focusing on this one issue and making determinations with respect to sanctions profoundly disturbing and very poorly thought through, very sloppily thought through.
I would like to see nothing more than a piece of legislation dealing with religious freedom that we can all support with a clear conscience and with a degree of enthusiasm, but this is not that piece of legislation because it clearly establishes a hierarchy irrespective of the objective conditions prevailing in scores of countries.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me stipulate, Mr. Chairman, that the lack of religious freedom is not the prime human rights deprivation in large numbers of countries. This is just a fact of life. And we need to have human rights tools which are flexible and responsive and realistic to the human rights deprivations in the various countries.
I also believe that the undermining of the role and commitment of the Secretary of State and the Department of State to the human rights issue cannot be the goal of anybody who is seriously interested in human rights.
In Serbia, under Milosovic, religious freedom clearly is not the most threatened human right. People who wish to pursue their religion are quite free to do so. Lack of media freedom is a very serious human rights violation in Serbia. Would it not be more sensible for the weight of the U.S. Government to focus on a lack of media freedom in Serbia which is real, rather than lack of religious freedom in Serbia which is not accurate?
The Catholic, the Protestant, the Jewish faith, have, within tolerable limits, the opportunity to be exercised. But when the open society folks tried to have independent television, that television station was shut down.
Those of us who are interested in building a free society in Serbia are concerned about policy priorities. It clearly is not religious freedom which is our main concern. But take a society such as several in the Middle East, where within the accepted religious framework a clearly established inferior status of women is our prime concern, yet within the context of that religion, no restrictions on that religion's freedom are practiced or pursued by the government.
So, I want to commend Secretary Shattuck for what I thought was an excellent piece of testimony, and invite him to work with all of us who are passionately committed to fighting religious persecution in drafting a piece of legislation that both this Administration and this Congress, on a bipartisan basis, can support. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Lantos. I just want to observe one thing for the Members, since you brought up Serbia, and I would agree, religious freedom is not the issue there, but when it became apparent that they were shutting down the independent voices, particularly the radio voices, I convened a hearing. The Administration and our Freedom Broadcast swung into action. And I think to suggest that because that's not the issue there, it is the issue elsewhere. So, we have other responses.
Again, as I said earlier, this legislation does not diminish by one iota what we do on the multitude of human rights abuses and responses to those abuses. So, we can respond to Serbia where they are going afoul. Same way with child labor. We've recommended and I've sponsored legislation that Serbia may not have a child labor problem, but other countries do. Pakistan does. Other countries do. We need to focus that remedy and fit it to where there is a problem.
Mr. LANTOS. My point, Mr. Chairman, is a very simple one. You have been one of the most articulate and effective champions of human rights in this body, and it's been a great pleasure for me to work with you. It's been more of a pleasure working with you as chairman than as Ranking Member, but it's been a pleasure both ways.
Let me, however, follow up on your argument. You agree with me that, in Serbia, religious persecution is not the prime human rights issue. If there are ten human rights issues, it may be No. 10, or even fall out of the picture all together. And you are correct, we dealt with the issue of restriction of freedom of press very effectively and very immediately and I think with some results.
The argument could be made, which I'm not prepared to make, that there should be a Director of Compliance and Sanctions within the White House on all human rights issues. No one really is recommending this because this is so clearly a State Department function.
So the very fact that you and I are in accord that human rights violations, by their very nature, vary from country to country, that in some countries the prime human rights issues are women's issues. In other countries, it's freedom of press. In other countries, it's racial persecution, or whatever it is. Singling out religion for unique treatment seems not warranted by the reality that confronts us. And it does, in fact, as both Secretary Shattuck and I have argued, establish a hierarchy of human rights concerns universally applicable to all countries when the objective situation palpably demonstrates that religion is not the most serious human rights problem everywhere. It is a very serious human rights problem in some countries. It may be the most serious one in a handful of countries. But it surely cannot be argued by any of us who are conversant with human rights problems as you certainly are, that it is the No. 1 human rights issue globally and therefore, it merits unique treatment. I thank the chair.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Mr. Campbell.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I applaud my colleague from California, and I share his point of view. He expresses it very well. And I do also want to put on the record my high regard for his commitment to human rights, which has, in my judgment, no peer in this Congress.
I have two specific questions. First, Mr. Assistant Secretary, do you know of any human rights groups or individuals, other than Members on this Committee, known for their position on human rights, who are opposing this bill in its present form? So my request is, do you happen to know any groups or even leaders in the human rights field who are presently saying don't go ahead?
Secretary SHATTUCK. I can't answer that with the clarity that you'd like me to, Mr. Campbell. I can say, however, that quite a number of human rights groups and representatives of religious groups who have met with me, have concerns about this bill. They have indicated their own concerns. I think, frankly, it is a bill that seems to be moving, at least at the moment, so rapidly that a number of groups have not really had a chance to look at it in detail. But I think this hearing has served a very good purpose.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I have a request. It's only that, I'm not going to seek anything other than your good faith effort. If you do come across a list of groups that favor and that oppose, I want to know both, would you try to get it to us before Thursday.
Second, that if you have suggestions for making this bill betterI know that's hard because you have to go through the OMB process and everythingnevertheless, I'd ask you to try because, under the assumption that the bill might be moving, I'd rather it be better than worse, and right now what we have are your very helpful comments, but I don't have it in the form of ''strike line 3 on page 7'', or whatever. So that's a request from me.
Last, I wonder if you'd be kind enough to take a lookone of the problems I think we sometimes do in this Committee is put in findings which nobody really cares much about, it seems, except if you are the country concerned, and find that you've been found. And perhaps we do good and bad inadvertently.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Would you be kind enough to take a moment right nowI'm going to read you this particular provision in the billif you have a point of view to express it, if not, then maybe you could get it to me. The finding that troubles mewe're identifying countriesI've always had this problemwe tend to identify countries perhaps too readily, but in this particular provision, page 2, line 23 and over to the top of page 3. ''Persecution of religious believers, particularly Roman Catholic and Evangelical Protestant Christians, in Communist countries such as Cuba, Laos, the People's Republic of China, North Korea and Vietnam, persist, and in some cases is increasing.''
Are you in a position to validate every country listed in those lines, or are there some that you are not in a position to validate?
Secretary SHATTUCK. I think the best way I can answer that question, Mr. Campbell, is to refer you to the very comprehensive report that we released in July, which I've submitted for the record here, that covers 78 countries. I believe each of these countries is, in fact, covered in that report. Certainly there are issues of religious freedom in each of those countries and, indeed, religious persecution.
Now, whether the definition of religious persecution within the bill applies to each of those countries, I'm not prepared to say, other than to stand on what we have very carefully compiled. We've done a lot of work on this, and through our embassies and through wide consultation with the religious community in our country and overseas NGO's, we've put together a great deal of information. And that's what appears in our report.
And so I think that would most accurately reflect the facts as we know them.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I appreciate your answer. One followup on that. Would you say these are the countries that are the worst in the world from the point of view ofwell, I suppose I should withdraw that question. The focus here is Communist countries, so we've got a very small field from which to choose, thank God. I guess that's the comment.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Last question I would have, unless you wish to offer one, I wouldn't consider these necessarily the worst of all countries, I wouldn't know, and that was my concern, but if we're limiting them to Communist countries, I suppose that's the purpose of clause 3.
Last, on clauses 4 and 5it may be very idiosyncratic, but I would rather not characterize these countries as Islamic countries. If there are governments that persecute, they ought to be condemned for doing so, butthe adjective is sometimes used in a way that leads to misperception in our country. I frequently hear the phrase ''Islamic terrorism'', well, it's terrorism by terrorists who may or may not be embracing a particular cause.
If that has any salience in your mind, I wonder if you might comment on a preferable way to refer to this situation. I was thinking of offering an amendment to read, ''In some countries and regions thereof, governments persecute non-Muslims and religious converts from Islam.'' That may well be true, but then I'm not calling a government or a country Islamic. Do you have a comment or a different point of view, I'd like to hear it, and that's my last question.
Secretary SHATTUCK. Well, I have a comment and perhaps a different point of view. I commented earlier that one of the very disturbing aspects of the legislation, as draftedand I think this particular section indicates the concern that we haveis that many Islamic countries would take thisand I think they would not be right to do so, but they certainly would take it based on the language here, and maybe even some other language that's more anodyne of the kind that you're talking aboutthey would take this as a kind of anti-Islamic approach in our foreign policy. And I cannot underscore enough the damage that that would do to the very things that we all care so deeply about, that Secretary Albright is tonight leaving to work on as she goes to the Middle East to try to rescue this peace process.
So, I think that there should be, in any legislation that comes out, no indication that particular countries or regions are, because of their own religion, by definition, persecuting others. There are cases of persecution throughout the Middle East, there's no question about it, and there are countries that are predominantly Islamic by way of their beliefs and adherence in terms of the population in which there is persecution of religious minorities. That is certainly true.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But to go to the point that we say many Islamic countriesand I'm not even sure what an Islamic country is, in that sense, other than to say there are presumably a majority of people who happen to be Islamicyou could say the United States is a Christian country, in that sense, but I think that would be an extremely dangerous thing to do, to characterize it in any official capacity.
We have a huge number of religions represented in our country, and therefore we don't want to get into that kind of distinction making. So, bottom line, I think this illustrates the problem in the legislation.
Having said all that, let me answer your earlier point. You invited us to very actively engage with specific suggestions and work with the Committee. We want to do that. We didn't feel that a Committee hearing was the best place to have the kind of detailed discussions of particular provisions. But, this is something that we commit to do. We'll do within the next hours, days, weeks, and we'll work very closely with the Congress, both parties, and both in the House and in the Senate.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Thanks, Mr. Shattuck. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Capps.
Mr. CAPPS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Shattuck, I very much appreciated your report. I had a chance to talk earlier today when Mr. Wolf was here, and the buzzer was going off, and I wasn't really quite able to complete my remarks. But I think this is a very tricky topic. I think this is really difficult to deal with because of situations that have occurred within the United States.
For example, not many years ago, a group from India, with obvious missionary intentions, moved into the State of Oregon. And the people in that area were resistant to their being there, and made it tough for them to be there. I don't think that qualified quite as religious persecution, but it had some of the characteristics of it.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A family in Montana discloses itself as a Jewish family. Somebody throws a rock through the window. We call it anti-semitism, but there is religious persecution going on within our own country. Things of that kind are not covered by this bill.
What I liked about your comments is, you seem to shift the language from religious persecution to religious freedom, to advancing religious freedom. And I think if we could concentrate on how religious freedom throughout the world could be advanced, I would feel much better about the bill than about how religious persecution can be punished.
I have two specific questions. First one is, from your point of view, working in the State Department with this issue, have the incidences of religious persecution increased dramatically in the last several years? And then the second question related to that, from your point of view, are you saying that the State Department is currently doing all that needs to be done with respect to this issue?
Secretary SHATTUCK. Three points on religious freedom. Certainly the broader effort here is to promote religious freedom, and that includes development assistance to countries, assistance to NGO's' efforts to develop the rule of law, all these aspects of our foreign affairs human rights policy.
But there is a great deal of religious persecution in the world. That's your second point. Indeed, I think we would say that it has been on the rise in certain countries. There are disturbing reports, some of them I've received first-hand, but I'm not going to get into personal observations on this. I just think that the review that we've made of this subject does indicate that the issue of religious freedom and religious persecution is a serious one. For that reasonyour third pointthe President and the Secretary of State have made this issue a foreign policy priority and are mainstreaming the work that we do in this area within our foreign affairs.
There is, I think, a very clear connection between the deep involvement that the United States now has at the very highest level as perhaps one of our three or four foreign policy priorities, in dealing with the crisis in Bosnia. It is a crisis that involves, as Mr. Wolf said earlier, massive ethnic cleansing and religious persecution, particularly of those Muslims in Bosnia, but also others based on their religion who happen to be Catholic or happen to be Orthodox. This is a major focus of our foreign policy, but that is just one example, I think, of the way in which we are mainstreaming these issues.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have created an Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom. We want to enhance the structure that we have. We're certainly hoping to work with the Committee in developing new positions. We are deeply opposed to creating one position in the White House, separate from all the rest of the foreign policy work, which would have the authority under this legislation to automatically impose sanctions on the basis of a finding by that office. That is what we oppose.
We could do more. I said in our testimony we could do more. We will do more, and we want to work with the Congress to find all the appropriate ways of doing more.
Mr. CAPPS. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you. Mr. Clement.
Mr. CLEMENT. Secretary Shattuck, it's a pleasure to have you here today. Do you agree with what Congressman Wolf said earlier, that probably the two countries that would be impacted first, immediately, would be Sudan and China?
Secretary SHATTUCK. Well, I think the bill, by definition, impacts Sudan immediately. I think Mr. Wolf explained that. In fact, I don't think there is a provision specifically in the bill that would even provide for a waiver of the sanctions. It may be that a waiver could be found in some other area. But Sudanlet me be very clearis an egregious human rights violator. And this Administration is working very closely with the Congress to tighten our approach to Sudan in the legislation that is moving elsewhere in the Congress. As I pointed out in my testimony, there are efforts to tighten the approach that we take toward Sudan.
As to China, certainly the definition of religious persecution and the triggering mechanism of the office would very much make it possible to move to impose automatic sanctions on China. I don't know whether that would happen. It would take a finding by the Director of the office, to be sure, but he would have the authority to do so. And the facts, I think as indicated in our report, indicate that there are serious problems of religious persecution.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CLEMENT. Well, let me ask you this. If this legislation was passed before Jiang Zemin was scheduled to make a visit to the United States, would he be denied a visa?
Secretary SHATTUCK. I don't know specifically whether the bill would mandate that, but certainly the denial of visas would be one of the elements of automatic sanctions, and the denial of visas to leaders of countries.
Let me just make one further comment on China, which I think presents one of the most difficult, broad human rights situations in the world. China is a huge country with a massive amount of repression, to be sure. There are terrible circumstances in Tibet in terms of religious freedom, which Mr. Wolf and I have both seen first-hand.
But it is a very mixed picture in China. And we want engagement with China. That is the policy of this Administration, to try to promote those elements that are moving forward. And there are plenty of people who are trying to exercise their faith in China, I think, who would be very disturbed by the automatic imposition of sanctions and the prospect that that might lead to retaliation against them.
Some of the same people, frankly, were concerned about the prospect that MFN might be denied to China, and the impact that that might have had on those who were dissidents or those who were facing religious persecution.
Mr. CLEMENT. Well, Secretary Shattuck, if we slap sanctions on a country 3 months after it is listed as a Category 1 persecutor, where do you escalate from there?
Secretary SHATTUCK. Well, I think the bill itself then has additional sanctions. Well, I guess in the Category 1 case, you would move on to all the nonhumanitarian assistance, the multilateral assistance, and the denial of visas.
On the nonhumanitarian assistance, let me make a comment on that. There is increasingly in our foreign affairs assistance programs, a democracy and human rights assistance component in the development category. That is intended, and does go, to nongovernmental organizations to promote law reform and legal reform. It is to build democratic structures in weak countries that may be human rights violators. These may well be countries that would be Category 2 countries. That is to say, those where there is societal persecution and the government may be having trouble doing enough about it.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, that kind of assistance would be cut off by this legislation. And I think, frankly, we need to work with those weak governments to try to improve their structures, rather than to slap them with sanctions in a way that could only enhance the status of extremist groups who are engaged in the societal discrimination. And there are all together too many cases of that around the world.
Mr. CLEMENT. It appears to me that, referring to trade sanctions, it seems to depend on how you define entities. And I'd like for you to elaborate on what Congressman Wolf said earlier, that we're not talking about exports. We're strictly talking about aid, but we're not talking about trade. Do you agree with his assessment?
Secretary SHATTUCK. Well, I know the bill has had a couple of changes that I was told about just this morning. I have not reviewed the new provisions, but certainly the bill that I studied and testified on did open the door to the issue of trade sanctions, and also the question of World Trade Organization membership.
Now, I understand that may have been removed, but it's a bit of a moving target. I'm not quite sure. Certainly, the kinds of export bans on products that would directly facilitate religious persecution is a very narrow category and, indeed, may well be an appropriate category. But I think the door is open to the trade approach here, and I appreciate Mr. Wolf's comment that he doesn't intend to open it.
Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Clement. Let me just ask one final question. Mr. Secretary, you point out that the legislationand correct meit authorizes the President to waive sanctions for periods up to 1 year. And you call the national security interest a stringent standard, and then you define it partially, economic/environmental protection. Could you give me a precise definition of what in the national security interest is a stringent standard? And what in addition to environmental protection is included?
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary SHATTUCK. I'm sorry. What I said in my testimony and what the written statement reflects, is that the national security standard would not include domestic or foreign affairs interests that don't rise to the level of national security, which tends to be one of the more stringent standards. You have to demonstrate that it has, in fact, a direct effect on the security of the Nation before you waive it.
That would mean that, for example, other human rights interests that we might have in a country that are not religious persecution interests, might be affected, for example, where we are trying to help NGO's by providing development assistance. That certainly wouldn't meet the standard of a waiver. Nor would major environmental treaty negotiation that we all have an interest in, nor law enforcement issues. All of those would not rise to that level.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you. Thank you for your testimony and, as usual, it's gone on a little late, but I do thank you for your patience. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:02 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Insert "The Official Committee record contains additional material here."
(Footnote 1 return)
The above-mentioned document is on file at the Committee office, but has not been included in the printed record.