Page 1       TOP OF DOC








H.R. 4423 and H. Res. 608

 Page 2       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
APRIL 6, 2006

Serial No. 109–143

Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations

Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/internationalrelations


HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman

  Vice Chairman
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
DARRELL ISSA, California
 Page 3       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
JOE WILSON, South Carolina
J. GRESHAM BARRETT, South Carolina
TED POE, Texas

TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
BRAD SHERMAN, California
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
 Page 4       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
BARBARA LEE, California
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California
ADAM SMITH, Washington

THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., Staff Director/General Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Staff Director

Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California,
 Page 5       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
  Vice Chairman

BARBARA LEE, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California

MARY M. NOONAN, Subcommittee Staff Director
GREG SIMPKINS, Subcommittee Professional Staff Member
NOELLE LUSANE, Democratic Professional Staff Member
SHERI A. RICKERT, Subcommittee Professional Staff Member and Counsel
LINDSEY M. PLUMLEY, Staff Associate



    H.R. 4423, To encourage and facilitate the consolidation of security, human rights, democracy, and economic freedom in Ethiopia
Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 4423 offered by the Honorable Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey and Chairman, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations

 Page 6       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    H. Res. 608, Condemning the escalating levels of religious persecution in the People's Republic of China
Amendment to H. Res. 608 offered by the Honorable Christopher H. Smith



House of Representatives,    
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights    
and International Operations,    
Committee on International Relations,
Washington, DC.

    The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 4:33 p.m. in room 2200, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher H. Smith (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The Subcommittee will come to order. Good afternoon to everybody.

    Pursuant to notice, I call up the bill, H.R. 4423, the Ethiopia Consolidation Act of 2005, for purposes of markup and move its recommendation to the full Committee. Without objection, the resolution will be considered as read and open for amendment at any point.
 Page 7       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    I have an amendment in the nature of a substitute at the desk, and, without objection, it will be considered as read and disseminated to the Members.

    [H.R. 4423 and the amendment referred to follows:]

[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I would like to recognize myself for a brief opening statement on the legislation.

    Colleagues, it is my pleasure this afternoon to mark up H.R. 4423, introduced as the Ethiopia Consolidation Act of 2005. Last May, this Subcommittee held a hearing on the border issue between Ethiopia and Eritrea. At that hearing, it became very clear that the governments of both nations were in violation of international human rights standards, even as the world was distracted by the potential of a reignited war between these two neighbors.

    Within weeks of that hearing, Ethiopia held what promised to be a breakthrough election. The process had never been more open. Opposition political parties had never had more freedom, it seemed, to campaign, despite some continued government interference.

    A greater percentage of the voters turned out at the polls than ever before in Ethiopian history. Preliminary returns indicated an exponential increase in the number of seats won by the opposition candidates.

 Page 8       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Unfortunately, the promise of the May 2005 elections ended with the questionable counting of the ballots cast, delayed release of the election results, and subsequently, with gunfire. With election results delayed weeks past the voting, citizens throughout the country became concerned that their individual votes had been discounted. Massive arrests of students led to demonstrations, and in early June, nearly 40 political activists were shot to death by government forces in the capital city of Addis.

    I became concerned that the situation in Ethiopia, an ally of the United States in the vital Horn of Africa, could spiral out of control. Therefore, my office began working with Human Rights Watch, with Amnesty International, Oxfam America and others to develop legislation that sought to correct some of the problems that led to the increasing human rights abuses and encourage Ethiopia to pursue a more certain path to democratic elections, good governance, and economic development.

    That summer, Greg Simpkins of my staff and I visited Ethiopia to see for ourselves what could be done to salvage a situation that continued to deteriorate. We were profoundly disappointed with the reaction of Prime Minister Meles, who told us he had ''proof'' that opposition leaders were guilty of treason and that he would arrest them at any point. Conversely, we saw proof that opposition officials were being followed and harassed. A flawed process of resolving election complaints and on-and-off negotiations between the government and the opposition failed to resolve the increasingly bitter dispute over the election and delayed release of the results. Meanwhile, mass arrests continued, and the ban on demonstrations and the limitations on free speech continued.

    In November, another demonstration resulted in shooting deaths at the hand of government forces, this time including innocent bystanders.
 Page 9       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The intent of H.R. 4423 has always been to hold accountable those who were involved in the shootings, as well as the government that failed to fully investigate or prosecute its forces involved in two sets of shootings.

    Over the past few weeks, we have been able to strengthen this bill with the help of good suggestions and input from colleagues on this Subcommittee and our friends in the human rights community.

    There is a requirement that all military cooperation not connected with either counterterrorism or peacekeeping be suspended until the United States certifies that the Government of Ethiopia is respecting human rights and the rule of law. Although the overwhelming amount of military cooperation between our nations would be exempted, this prohibition would prevent future expansion of United States-Ethiopia military cooperation until the specified conditions are met. There is also a travel ban that prevents travel to America by those government officials and forces involved in the shooting of demonstrators.

    However, 4423 is not merely a punitive measure. It provides technical assistance and other support to try to change the circumstances that have limited Ethiopia's progress and have led to the tragic incidents of 2005. In this regard, H.R. 4423 calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia.

    It provides support for the work of both international and domestic human rights agencies and urges the dispatch of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. It provides human rights training for both domestic and human rights organizations and government agencies so that both sides are clear about what is called for in international human rights agreements to which Ethiopia is a signatory so that the rule of law can prevail in Ethiopia's court system.
 Page 10       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    It establishes technical assistance for court personnel so that those arrested and held in custody can be treated in a humane way when their incarceration is justified by the facts so that those who peacefully demonstrate to express their political view can be dealt with in a lawful manner.

    It encourages the Government of Ethiopia to revise its laws that currently unduly limit the right of journalists to freely provide information, a vital factor in any free society. It provides technical assistance to enhance the democratic operation of local, regional, and national governments. It provides support and encouragement of efforts by the Government of Ethiopia and the political opposition to work together to ensure that future elections, including the upcoming local elections, are conducted in an atmosphere free of intimidation and harassment and that those elected to the office are allowed to exercise their duties as public officials without undue limitations.

    It provides technical assistance on the appropriate and effective use of resources, especially water resources, as well as economic policy assistance on such issues as land ownership to help the Ethiopian economy so that it can reduce the need for donor support.

    Finally, it provides financing for United States and Ethiopian commercial ventures so that the Ethiopian private sector can provide jobs and help this nation reduce its high level of poverty.

    This bill, I would remind my colleagues, has 15 co-sponsors. Three of them are Members of this Subcommittee: Our Vice Chairman, Mr. Royce; Mr. Tancredo, and Ambassador Watson. I know others are likely to join as we move this legislation through to the Floor. I want to thank them for their support for this measure and ask for their support and other Members of this body for an amendment that I have now offered in the nature of a substitute.
 Page 11       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The Chair recognizes Mr. Payne.

    Mr. PAYNE. Thank you very much. Let me say that I am very pleased that this very important legislation is coming to the Floor because it is important. Ethiopia is a very important country, and the quicker that the Government of Ethiopia gets on the right track, the better it will be for the people of Ethiopia but for Africa in general.

    As I have indicated in previous meetings, I first visited Ethiopia during the 1973 drought twice that year. I went to Walu Province, Desi Town, where we bringing food to the mobile million people who were moving around, and then again in 1982 and 1983 with that drought and raised several hundred thousand dollars from UNICEF to deal with that cyclical drought. So Ethiopia is a country that I have been involved with for close to 40 years and continue to have very strong feelings about the governance and the people of Ethiopia.

    Chairman Smith and colleagues, let me say up front that the markup of H.R. 4423 today, I am sure, will clarify to some people that I and my colleagues certainly support the concept of legislation that will strengthen and correct what is going on in Ethiopia. Rather, though, we have argued consistently that we need stronger legislation, and I think all of us agree that we need to have strong legislation to deal with the multiple challenges facing Ethiopia.

    For some of us, Ethiopia did not just appear on our screen yesterday or at the beginning of this year. We have been actively engaged even before this government ever came to power. As I mentioned before, my travels started in the early seventies, and I have continued. Even last year, I traveled twice to the region before and after the elections, met with opposition leaders twice, before and after the elections, and introduced legislation, as a matter of fact, which was never marked up by this Committee which called for free and fair elections, but we could never get it on the agenda.
 Page 12       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The people of Ethiopia have suffered for decades from the brutal dictatorship of the Mengistu regime to the abuses and uses of excessive force by the current government. Some opposition groups cannot claim that they have been saints either, as they have not played a constructive role in rebuilding Ethiopia and strengthening democracy. Some of the techniques have not been in the right direction and have created chaos in some of their pronouncements.

    It is the responsibility of us to work together to ensure respect for human life, fundamental rights, and respect for human rights. Ethiopia has a long way to go to get into that direction.

    I was alarmed by the violence against civilian demonstrators in June and in November. I made my views very clear in a letter to the prime minister. Members of Parliament who were negotiating with the government are now in prison, accused of treason and genocide. This is absolutely wrong. This is precisely the primary reason we pushed for stronger legislation. We did not feel that it was the right thing to do to provide training to a police force that has been engaged in brutal suppression of its civilians.

    The Ethiopia police do not need funding for training purposes. They are very well trained. Those officers engaged in the killings of civilians in June and November were sharpshooters from the special forces of Ethiopia. They do not need training.

    We felt our responsibility should not be to reward but, rather, to hold those people accountable for the crimes they committed, the crimes of murder that they committed against innocent people in the street.
 Page 13       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    We also believe that portraying a very negative picture in the country overall is not appropriate because there are some positive things and good people in the country, and Ethiopia should not be covered with a broad, negative brush.

    Most important, we do not see anything in the bill that would help strengthen democracy, hold people accountable, strengthen human rights institutions, offer reconciliation and support for those willing to participate in the process, and offer tangible support to strengthen an independent judiciary.

    We expressed concern before the introduction of the bill and the substitute that is being introduced by the Chairman, but it was decided that they would move forward with the bill that is being introduced by the Chairman, as is the prerogative of the Chairman. That is why you have a Chairman, and that is why the majority rules; and, therefore, that is the bill that is before us.

    Our staff had one meeting a few weeks ago and offered a number of suggestions to strengthen the bill. Some were accepted, and a number of them were not included in the bill. We decided to come up with a substitute amendment to the bill, and I have offered the substitute here. We offered to sit down and discuss our bill subject as opposed to the legislation that was presented by the majority. We wanted to show a united front because we all believe that there must be changes in Ethiopia. Our offer to sit down and negotiate a final compromise was not fully embraced, except the inclusion of some ideas that we have put down.

    We are disappointed that we were unable to have all of our positions included in this legislation being presented. What we are offering in my alternative is the following: One, to take out the police-training provision as well as the suspension of joint military——
 Page 14       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Will the gentleman yield a minute?

    Mr. PAYNE. Yes.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. You have amended the amendment in the nature of a substitute. It contains nothing on police training, so that is a moot point. I yield back.

    Mr. PAYNE. Taking out the police-training provision as well as the suspension of joint military exercise since the exemption from terrorism and peacekeeping makes this provision meaningless because they are already exempt. So it is sort of a feel-good amendment.

    Two, victim-support network. This bill does not deal with the network. The network shall provide assistance to families of individuals who lost loved ones in Ethiopia, provide medical and financial support to individuals injured by Ethiopian Government security personnel, provide financial support for legal support for prisoners of conscience, and provide assistance to local groups or groups from outside of Ethiopia that are active in monitoring the status of individuals in prison.

    While I am reading, you could look at page 6 so that you can correct yourself, page number 23, but I will continue, and you will find out that you happen to be wrong.

    As a matter of fact, I did not want to inject it, but the original bill was very poorly written, to be very truthful, and I am very pleased that, in my substitute, exact findings were taken. If you go to line 16 on the first page, exact, verbatim, the people of Ethiopia have suffered for decades. The second part starting on line 8 on page 2, verbatim from the legislation that I wrote. If you go to line 14 on page 2, number 3, exact verbatim what I have put in our substitute. If you go to Part 4, line 20, exactly verbatim what I have put in in the whole page 3.
 Page 15       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    There is a frustration on my part because we took time and wrote a decent bill. We took a very poorly written bill, almost inconsistent, poorly done, evidentiary taken from someone who handed it to them and not really did the research. Part 7, page 4, verbatim from our findings. Part 8 on page 4, line 17, from what I wrote. The entire page 5, Section 9.

    We wrote the bill. You took out what you wanted to take out, would not sit down and talk about it. You have people saying that we are opposed to having the right thing done. We want it done and want it done wrong. It is good to be able to sit there and chastise a poorly prepared Ambassador and get applause and claps. I think it was certainly undignified, even though I opposed everything he was saying, but that is not the way that you conduct a hearing. I thought it was demeaning.

    Let me finish what I have to say. I have been very cooperative in my opinion as the Ranking Member, but at a particular point, I think enough is really enough.

    Number three, the victims network system, something that we put in. We think, as I mentioned, that it should be a part of it. It was not included in your substitute.

    Supporting indigenous human rights groups; we asked to put in your substitute. We will establish a mechanism to provide financial support to local human rights groups, such as the Ethiopia Human Rights Council, to help strengthen human rights monitoring and regular reporting on human rights conditions throughout Ethiopia. It was not included in your bill.

 Page 16       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Fourth, the Judicial Watch Network. We shall create a Judicial Watch Network consisting of local and international groups to monitor judicial processing throughout Ethiopia with special focus on unnecessary government intervention on strictly judicial matters and to investigate and report ways to strengthen an individual, independent judiciary. It was not included in your bill.

    Five, we support free media. We will institute a program to strengthen private media in Ethiopia, provide support for training purposes, and offer technical and other types of support as necessary. It was not included in your bill. We asked that we shall provide assistance to strengthen local, regional, and national parliaments and government agencies in Ethiopia, do training by the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and other qualified groups. It was not included in your bill.

    We asked that there be support for reconciliation efforts and provide training for peaceful political groups, with the President, acting as the head of the appropriate department or agency of the Government of the United States, shall establish a program focused on reconciliation efforts between the Government of Ethiopia and peaceful political groups outside the political process was not included in the bill.

    So I have introduced a substitute because, as I indicated, there were a number of provisions that we wrote specifically that were taken out verbatim and made a part of your legislation. However, when we asked that these other items be included, they were denied, and all of them are to strengthen the will of the people of Ethiopia. With that, I will yield back.

 Page 17       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The Chair will speak to the gentleman's amendment in the nature of a substitute to the amendment in the nature of a substitute.

    Let me just, I think, for the good of the Members who are here, just make a few opening observations. First of all, the suggestion that I would not sit down with you—you have never asked me, Mr. Payne, not once, to sit down and talk about this legislation. Our staff has been trying for months, and only recently did we get any kind of meeting of the minds that we could work on some language, and that is only recently.

    I circulated this draft bill in July. Again, we worked with human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and others in devising what we thought would be an ideal piece of legislation. Every piece of legislation I have ever worked on in my 26 years is a work in progress. That is why we have hearings.

    Let me just say one thing briefly about the hearing. When we had a markup scheduled on Ethiopia, I postponed it at your request, trying to be accommodating, until after we had the hearing. I would respectfully suggest that any time any Ambassador or any representative of a government comes before Congress, they ought to come prepared to answer questions that were done in a polite but firm manner because there are egregious human rights abuses being committed by the government of Prime Minister Meles, and I asked, as did other Members of this panel, I think, very specific questions, to which we got what I believe were very poor answers.

    So let me just continue. We did get some feedback from at least one Member on the minority—let me finish—including Ambassador Watson, who did respond to us with some suggestions for the legislation.
 Page 18       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    So, again, this goes back to July. I introduced the bill in November, and this legislative session will soon run out if we do not get this legislation on the Floor, and we wanted to work with you, and still want to work with you, to work out the best possible legislation that we can. No concerns were ever raised about our legislation for months, even though we wanted to engage fully.

    I happen to believe that it is very well written, but, again, nothing is perfect, and we are always looking to improve.

    One of the things that your bill does—you talk about it being a strengthening bill—it actually weakens the bill. There is legislation—you called it a ''feel-good amendment''—our suspension of joint military activities that is contained under Section 6. That language says: ''The President shall suspend all joint military activities of the Government of the United States and the Government of Ethiopia other than joint military activities related to antiterrorism or peacekeeping until such time as the certification described in paragraph 3 is made in accordance,'' and, of course, that certification includes such things as all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience have been released, and there are others.

    Let me point out to my colleague that while most of the military aid in the past has been in the area of peacekeeping training, as well as training for terrorism, in this year's budget request from the Administration under FMF it states very clearly in the rationale given to us by the Department of State that Fiscal Year 2007 international military education and training, or IMET, funds will be used for training that will further increase the professionalism of the Ethiopian military, focusing on senior-level, professional, military-education courses, war college and command and general staff-level colleges, and then it goes on from there.
 Page 19       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    That is exactly what so many Members of this panel of the International Relations Committee for years objected to when we were aiding and abetting some of those left-wing and right-wing dictatorships in places in Central America. That is what the School of Americas argument was all about.

    So we exempted two areas where I think we have a consensus—peacekeeping and in the area of terrorism—but IMET money is poised to be going forward in 2007, if we are to believe the State Department, and I think we should.

    In the area of authorizations, we provide $10 million each year for 2 years, $20 million over 2 years, in our bill. So you copied that in your legislation. But then you delineate all kinds of subearmarks, and I do not know what the rationale is. If we were to accept your amendment today, we would say that two million should go to indigenous human rights groups. I do not know if two million or three million or five million or one million is the number.

    I have written other legislation that is very similar to this, including the Belarus Democracy Act, and to the greatest extent possible, we did not subgrant it or subcategorize it for the simple reason that we do not know what the number should be. This is a new piece of legislation and a new initiative, so that, in and of itself, to have such subcategorizing makes it so that we are telling the State Department what to do before we even know ourselves. I do not know if those numbers make sense. I really do not.

    Mr. PAYNE. We did not make up the numbers.

 Page 20       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. They are arbitrary, without a doubt. We came up with the $20 million arbitrarily. I will admit that. We do not know what the number should be over 2 years, but we came up with a number that we thought could make a difference. But if you are going to go and further delineate that, I do not know how you do that.

    So I would urge my colleagues. I have tried in this Committee, and every Member, I think, on the majority side will agree with it, I have open mikes. I do not use the red buttons. We may disagree on key issues, fight it out, but here we have had a process that began in July, open-door policy. With all due respect, Mr. Payne, you never talked to me about it, and you could have come at any time and said, ''Let us work out our differences.''

    I would hope, after this markup, if your amendment goes down, let us work further and come up with legislation that will be a great consensus bill, catapult it to the Floor, and get it passed and signed by the President. We have a long haul to get this thing into law, and I think we need bipartisanship. I am not going to say yours is poorly written or denigrate the work product of your staff. I am going to work with your staff. It is bewildering why you have not been willing to further work with us, and I hope you will going forward.

    Mr. PAYNE. Well, first of all, let me just respond by saying it made no sense to me for you to have a markup a week before you had the hearing.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The hearing was on human rights in general, not on the legislation.

    Mr. PAYNE. Well, how are you going to develop legislation if you do not hear what the problems are?
 Page 21       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Will the gentleman yield? There are more steps in the process.

    Mr. PAYNE. Absolutely.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Maybe on the Floor, maybe in Full Committee.

    Mr. PAYNE. But what harm does having a hearing so you can hear people——

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. I accommodated your request.

    Mr. PAYNE. Well, it was not only my request. There were a number of people who felt that it would make sense to have a hearing before you write up legislation.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The legislation was written, whether or not we marked it up.

    Mr. PAYNE. It was written, and like I said, and maybe the words ''poorly written''—I should have just said inconsistencies. The fact that the State Department does not support the bill, not that that makes it great, but they are opposed to the legislation. And also, the reason I talked about the fact that peacekeeping and terrorism, that is about the only thing now to IMET; I did not see what this new, heavy funding for Ethiopia's military is supposed to be. The exemption is for peacekeeping and terrorism. We know that. I do not think there is very much left that would be funded to Ethiopia's military when you take out the exemption of peacekeeping and terrorism.
 Page 22       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    So I believe, as I have indicated, that we sat down, and like I said, the fact that a good third of the first four or five pages of our legislation was taken and put into your legislation, at least it shows that there was some good judgment on the part of some staff people. However, I do not understand why the other parts were eliminated because I do think that we need to penetrate and get down to the people so that they can have open media, that these organizations will be able to function at IRI, and NDI could get in there and move on. But that is my substitute amendment, and I will move it.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The question occurs on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Payne. All in favor say aye.

    [A chorus of ayes.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. All opposed, say no. No.

    [A chorus of noes.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. In the opinion of the Chair, the noes have it.

    The question then occurs on the amendment in the nature of a substitute——

    Mr. PAYNE. Have a rollcall.
 Page 23       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The Chair will call the roll.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Royce?

    Mr. ROYCE. No.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Royce votes no. Mr. Tancredo?

    Mr. TANCREDO. No.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Tancredo votes no. Mr. Flake?

    [No response.]

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Green?

    [No response.]

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Boozman?

    Mr. BOOZMAN. No.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Boozman votes no. Mr. Fortenberry?

 Page 24       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Fortenberry votes no. Mr. Payne?

    Mr. PAYNE. Yes.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Payne votes yes. Mr. Meeks?

    Mr. MEEKS. Aye.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Meeks votes yes. Ms. Lee?

    Ms. LEE. Yes.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Ms. Lee votes yes. Ms. McCollum?

    Ms. MCCOLLUM. Aye.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Ms. McCollum votes yes. Ms. Watson?

    [No response.]

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Smith?

 Page 25       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Smith votes no. Mr. Green?

    Mr. GREEN. No.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Mr. Green votes no.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The clerk will report the tally.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. On this vote, there are six noes and four yeses.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The amendment is not agreed to.


    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The question occurs on the amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Chairman Chris Smith. All of those in favor, say aye.

    [A chorus of ayes.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. All opposed, no.

    [A chorus of noes.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The ayes have it, and the amendment is agreed to.
 Page 26       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    The question occurs on the motion to report the Resolution H.R. 4423, now named, the Ethiopia Freedom and Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2006. All those in favor, say aye. Aye.

    [A chorus of ayes.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. All those opposed, say no.

    [No response.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. The motion is approved, and the resolution is reported favorably. Without objection, the staff is directed to make any technical and conforming amendments to the legislation.

    We now move, pursuant to notice, to call up H. Res. 608, Condemning the escalating level of religious persecution in the People's Republic of China, for purposes of markup and move its recommendation to the full Committee. Without objection, the resolution will be considered as read and open for amendment at any point. The Chair recognizes himself for an opening statement.

    [H. Res. 608 follows:]

[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file.]

 Page 27       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. This afternoon, I am very pleased to bring up for your consideration the bill of my good friend and colleague, Mr. McCotter. House Resolution 608 addresses and condemns the escalating levels of religious persecution in the People's Republic of China.

    China's repression of religion is arguably among the most despotic in the world. Despite China's entrance into the world community, its government refuses to grant its citizens universally recognized human rights of freedom of religion and thought. The PRC permits religious practice only for government-sanctioned religions and organizations, at registered locations of worship. Those who practice other faiths, as their consciences demand, risk disappearing into one of hundreds of Laogai, the forced reeducation camps, or education-through-labor camps, established by Mao Tse-Tung decades ago.

    Not only is religious persecution of numerous groups and movements ongoing, but it is actually worsening by the hour and by the day. The Voice of the Martyrs reports that just a few weeks ago the Chinese Public Security Bureau raided a registered Protestant church in Hunan Province because its meetings were considered part of an illegal, evil cult. In February, the BBC reported that China warned Hong Kong's newly appointed cardinal, Joseph Zen, a well-known critic of China's suppression of religious freedom, to remain quiet on political issues.

    Last summer, this Subcommittee heard testimony from Mr. Chen Younglin, formerly a diplomat for the Chinese Government, who said, ''According to my knowledge, the persecution of the Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party is a systematic campaign.'' For example, Falun Gong practitioners, such as Yun Yuan and her son, Jinhui Liang, sit in prison today for no crime other than their peaceful Falun Gong activities. As a matter of fact, there have been hundreds of Falun Gong who have been tortured to death in the Chinese Laogai.
 Page 28       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    According to the State Department's 2005 International Religious Freedom Report, the Chinese Government, and I quote them, ''respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience remain poor, especially for many unregistered religious groups and spiritual movements. Members of unregistered groups, including Protestants and Catholics, are subject to restrictions, including intimidation, harassment, detention, arrest, and imprisonment.''

    Given these very disturbing facts and a very dangerous trend, Congressman O'Connor's resolution condemning the Government of China's systematic persecution of religious and spiritual groups is both timely and appropriate. I urge my colleagues to support his legislation. I yield to Mr. Payne.

    Mr. PAYNE. I would support the legislation and would urge its passage.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Would anybody else like to be heard?

    I do have an amendment at the desk that I would like to offer which we worked on with Mr. McCotter. The clerk will report the amendment.

    Ms. PLUMLEY. Amendment to House Resolution 608 offered by Mr. Smith of New Jersey.

    [The amendment referred to follows:]

 Page 29       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Without objection, the amendment is considered as read.

    The amendment is an updating of the names of those persecuted for their faith in China, and obviously that is something that must be done because the list is always growing. It includes a couple of pastors, including Pastor Gong Shengliang, who is the founder and pastor of the South China Church. He was arrested, along with 16 other SCC leaders, in April 2001 and is serving a life sentence for using a heretical organization to undermine the implementation of the law. That is the charge that has been lobbied against him. So it is an amendment that just makes this a more thorough resolution.

    Would anybody else like to be heard on either the amendment of the pending resolution? If not, the question is on the amendment. All of those in favor, say aye.

    [A chorus of ayes.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. All those opposed, say no. The ayes have it. The amendment is agreed to.

    Are there any other further amendments to this? If not, the question occurs on the motion to report the resolution, H. Res. 608, Condemning the escalating level of religious persecution in the People's Republic of China, favorably as amended. All in favor, say aye.
 Page 30       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    [A chorus of ayes.]

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. All those opposed, say no. The motion is approved, and the resolution is reported favorably. Without objection, the staff is directed to make any technical and conforming amendments. I want to thank both sides of the aisle for coming to this markup today.

    Ms. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chair, I have a question for the good of the order.


    Ms. MCCOLLUM. If our staffs are engaged in discussions, and my staff is talking to the majority staff on which amendments are being offered, discussions are taking place that there are parts of any bill, a bill in the future or whatever, is unacceptable, is it still my responsibility to seek you out on the Floor and tell you personally that I object to the bill?

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Not at all. I would say to the gentlelady that the discussion on this language, the Ethiopia bill, it was a process that I had hoped, and I still hope, can emerge as a bipartisan product. What I found disturbing was that the engagement did not occur for months, and when it did, a motion that took all of our provisions, or most of them, not all of them, and then jettisoned others and then was seeking to become a brand-new bill——
 Page 31       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Ms. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chair.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Mr. Payne, when we go to full Committee—if the gentlelady would yield——

    Ms. MCCOLLUM. Yes, I will.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY [continuing]. Obviously, any amendment you would like to offer, offer it during the markup in full Committee.

    Ms. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chair, if I may.


    Ms. MCCOLLUM. I objected and had reservations with the bill when it was first introduced, and I went back and talked to members in my community. I spoke with people. I also have traveled to Ethiopia. I had concerns with it, and my staff was gathering information. A markup was scheduled prior to the hearing, and that is when the discussion, I believe, took place between staffs at that point.

    But if I followed some of the discussion correctly, and that is why I wanted to make sure I understood it, is that you were unaware that there were such strong disagreements because no one had spoken to you personally, and that is why I wanted to know if, in the future—I know when my staff is discussing, my staff is directly talking to me. I was under a strong assumption, as I am sure all of you may or may not agree with me, that when staffs are in such heated negotiations that you are kept informed.
 Page 32       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Gentlelady, I was fully apprised of the discussions of my staff with the appropriate staff, but I had hoped, and I still hope, that we can still work on what will become a consensus bill. I do not know if that will happen, but I certainly would want to, and any disparate or any sweeping amendment that the minority or any majority Member wants to offer, you are certainly welcome to do it. But this legislation is going to have a very arduous trip to the White House. It is going to take a while to get there, and it seems to me the more we work together, the better.

    But all of a sudden I was told, and I did not see the text until the last couple of days, of what Mr. Payne wanted to offer, and he basically took all of our bill and then jettisoned things like the military language. I agree, the police language is——

    Ms. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chairman, I am not on the substance of the bill.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Well, the substance is also the process.

    Ms. MCCOLLUM. I am just trying to understand the process right now.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Well, the process is any Member, during a markup, is more than free to offer an amendment that is germane to the bill.

 Page 33       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    Ms. MCCOLLUM. Thank you.

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. And I have no problem with that.

    Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, may I just ask, as we move forward with regard to the bill that was just passed, the specific provisions as it relates to, for instance, the assistance for indigenous human rights groups, the victims support network provision, the specific provisions that were so important in the substitute; are you open to discussing those——

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Without a question, open to discussion, and, of course, if we do not come to a conclusion thereon, you can offer it as an amendment.

    Ms. LEE. We would rather, I believe, see some consensus worked out——

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Without a doubt.

    Ms. LEE [continuing]. Because there are only a few of these provisions that remain.

    Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Chairman, let me just try to correct. You said that we took provisions—most of my bill are provisions of your bill. It is just the reverse.

 Page 34       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC
    To be very honest, the initial bill, and we will get a copy of the initial bill, and I will sit down with you, and I will show you 30 inaccuracies in the bill. I will be honest with you, and I will show you this legislation that the first seven or eight, nine, 10 findings were what we wrote.

    I am glad that it is here because it is good. It is what we wrote, but you might need to meet with your chief staff person, if you really want to get to the bottom of it, you ought to take a look at what you originally had. As a matter of fact, if you like it, I will write a critique, line by line, through 75 lines in the original bill. I do not think it is necessary to continue to have this discussion in public, but I was under the assumption that the staff persons who were working to try to merge these, that you or I was fully aware of what was going on. But I will, for your edification, believe me, I will show you that original piece of legislation and show you what you have now, and I will let you make your own conclusion.

    But like the gentlelady was saying, if we could somehow work on this. We all believe that the people of Ethiopia need to have our voice very strongly heard. It is easy to take a group of people that have a particular position and say things that works them up and, therefore, makes——

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Would the gentleman yield? Surely, you are not accusing me of that.

    Mr. PAYNE. I am not accusing you of anything. I am saying that it is easy to get applause—I have never seen a Chairman allow people to applaud. The first time in my time in Congress because a normal Chairman would say that is out of order, whether it was for or against, and I just have to duly say that I have never seen a Chairman allow people to applaud. I was totally turned off by what the representative of the Ethiopian Government said. However, I have been at other meetings where people said things that were very distasteful, but I do not think that a diplomat—you are going to meet with Bashir in Sudan. I will not even meet with him because he is a murderer.
 Page 35       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    I do not think that the Ambassador from Ethiopia should have been subjected, as he was doing his diplomatic job, to applause from opposition people, whether you were on one side or the other of the Ethiopia people. You have to have respect for a person that is there, and I have never seen it happen to any European or any Asian or anybody else who was allowed to be almost cheered indirectly. It was wrong, just simply wrong.

    You are a big human rights person. Well, to me, that was not using human rights in the right manner, and you can respond to that, if you like, if you think I am wrong.

    Mr. ROYCE. Why don't we just adjourn?

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. Let me just invite the minority, if they would like—our staff could begin meeting tomorrow to work on this bill to get it to the full Committee. Like I said in my opening, every piece of legislation I have ever worked on, whether I was in the minority or majority, was always a work in progress. But there are serious questions about the gentleman's amendment as he offered it. One of them was, as I pointed out, was the subcategorizing in the legislation with what justification.

    So those issues can all be further discussed as we move to Level 2, which is the full Committee.

    Mr. PAYNE. Also, just a part of the Parliament, I think there were some suggestions in your legislation about how the Parliament of Ethiopia should change their internal rules to lessen the number of signatures needed in order to get legislation out. Now, that is totally inappropriate, to tell a parliament, duly elected parliament, that this is what your parliamentary rules should be. I did not raise that. I just said I will let it go. There were a number of issues that were very——
 Page 36       PREV PAGE       TOP OF DOC

    Mr. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY. It is not the first time we have suggested that parliaments at least have a modicum of freedom for everyone who sits on that parliament.

    We have also done it in the Belarus Democracy Act and their parliament, which obviously has not been a democratic parliament either.

    The Subcommittee markup is adjourned.

    [Whereupon, at 5:18 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]