Tuesday, February 24, 2015

• HR4254: the Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act

113th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 4254
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 14, 2014
 (for himself, Mr. Lowenthal, Mr. Wolf, and Ms. Loretta Sanchez of California) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on the Judiciary,Ways and Means, and Financial Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


 A BILL
To impose sanctions on individuals who are complicit in human rights abuses committed against nationals of Vietnam or their family members, and for other purposes.
1. 
Short title
This Act may be cited as the  Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act .
2. 
Findings
Congress finds the following:
(1) 
Vietnam remains a one-party state, ruled and controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam, which continues to deny the right of citizens to change their government.
(2) 
According to the Department of State’s 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Vietnam’s most significant human rights problems . . . continued to be severe government restrictions on citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to change their government; increased measures to limit citizens’ civil liberties; and corruption in the judicial system and police.
(3) 
Furthermore, the Department of State documents that arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly for political activists, remained a problem, with the Government of Vietnam sentencing at least 35 arrested activists during [2012] to a total of 131 years in jail and 27 years of probation for exercising their rights.
(4) 
The Government of Vietnam forbids public challenge to the legitimacy of the one-party state, restricts freedoms of opinion, the press, assembly, and association, and tightly limits access to the Internet and telecommunication.
(5) 
The Government of Vietnam continues to limit freedom of religion, pressure all religious groups to come under the control of government and party-controlled management boards, and restrict the operation of independent religious organizations, including the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and members of unsanctioned Mennonite, Cao Dai, Theravada Buddhist, and Hoa Hao Buddhist religious groups and independent Protestant house churches, primarily in the central and northern highlands. Religious leaders who do not conform to the Government’s demands are often harassed, arrested, imprisoned, or put under house arrest.
(6) 
Enhancement of relations between the United States and Vietnam has provided an opportunity for a human rights dialogue, but is unlikely to lead to future progress on human rights issues in Vietnam unless the United States makes clear that such progress is an essential prerequisite for further enhancements in the bilateral relationship.
3. 
Imposition of sanctions on certain individuals who are complicit in human rights abuses committed against nationals of Vietnam or their family members
(a) 
In general
Except as provided in subsection (d), the President shall impose sanctions described in subsection (c) with respect to each individual on the list required by subsection (b).
(b) 
List of individuals who are complicit in certain human rights abuses
(1) 
In general
Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of individuals who are nationals of Vietnam that the President determines are complicit in human rights abuses committed against nationals of Vietnam or their family members, regardless of whether such abuses occurred in Vietnam.
(2) 
Updates of list
The President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an updated list underparagraph (1) as new information becomes available and not less frequently than annually.
(3) 
Public availability
The list required by paragraph (1) shall be made available to the public and posted on the Web sites of the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State.
(4) 
Consideration of data from other countries and nongovernmental organizations
In preparing the list required by paragraph (1), the President shall consider data already obtained by other countries and nongovernmental organizations, including organizations in Vietnam, that monitor the human rights abuses of the Government of Vietnam.
(c) 
Sanctions described
The sanctions described in this subsection are the following:
(1) 
Prohibition on entry and admission to the United States
An individual whose name appears on the list required by subsection (b)(1) may not—
(A) 
be admitted to, enter, or transit through the United States;
(B) 
receive any lawful immigration status in the United States under the immigration laws, including any relief under the Convention Against Torture; or
(C) 
file any application or petition to obtain such admission, entry, or status.
(2) 
Financial sanctions
The President shall impose sanctions authorized pursuant to section 203 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ( 50 U.S.C. 1702 ) with respect to an individual whose name appears on the list required by subsection (b)(1), including blocking of the property of, and restricting or prohibiting financial transactions and the exportation and importation of property by, the individual.
(d) 
Exceptions To comply with international agreements
The President may, by regulation, authorize exceptions to the imposition of sanctions under this section to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, and other applicable international agreements.
(e) 
Termination of sanctions
The provisions of this section shall cease to have force and effect on the date on which the Presidentdetermines and certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Vietnam has—
(1) 
unconditionally released all political prisoners;
(2) 
ceased its practices of violence, unlawful detention, torture, and abuse of citizens of Vietnam while engaging in peaceful political activity; and
(3) 
conducted a transparent investigation into the killings, arrest, and abuse of peaceful political activists in Vietnam and prosecuted those responsible.
(f) 
Definitions
In this section:
(1) 
Appropriate congressional committees
The term appropriate congressional committees means—
(A) 
the Committee on Finance, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate; and
(B) 
the Committee on Ways and Means, the Committee on Financial Services, and theCommittee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.
(2) 
Convention Against Torture
The term Convention Against Torture means the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, done at New York on December 10, 1984.
(3) 
Immigration laws; national
The terms immigration laws and national have the meanings given those terms in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101).