Monday, October 01, 2007

House Resolution Introduced on "Human Rights and Democracy in Iran"

On September 25, H.R.3653, sponsored by Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), to hold the current regime in Iran accountable for its human rights record and to support a transition to democracy in Iran, was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The bill makes a direct link "between the state of freedom and democracy within Iran and the efforts of the current regime of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and the long-term success of the global war on terror." Senator Brownback (R-KS) introduced the Senate version of the bill, S. 1534, on May 25, 2007 and it was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The bill seeks to amend the Iran Freedom and Support Act (Public Law 109-293; 22 U.S.C. 2151 note) "to make the deplorable human rights record of the Government of Iran a top concern and priority of United States foreign policy" and "to keep the deplorable human rights record of Iran a top priority, irrespective of ongoing nuclear issues."

The bill also calls on the President to appoint a special envoy for human rights in Iran within the State Department. It outlines the dutes of the Special Envoy, who "shall coordinate and promote efforts to improve respect for the fundamental human rights of the people of Iran and work with organizations committed to promoting democracy in Iran." Among other responsibilities, the Special Envoy would "serve as point of contact for opposition groups, diaspora groups, and nongovernmental organizations interested in advocating democracy and human rights in Iran."

The bill concludes with a sense of Congress statement "that the commitment to human rights and democracy of a national of Iran who has applied for a visa to enter the United States should be considered when determining the eligibility of such national for the visa."

Three other Representatives have co-sponsored the bill to date:
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 9/25/2007
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 9/25/2007
Rep Wolf, Frank R. [VA-10] - 9/25/2007

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