Sending Office: Honorable Joe Wilson
Combat Russia’s Religious Freedom Violations in Ukraine; Cosponsor Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act
Cosponsors: Reps. Moore, Meadows, Eshoo, Bilirakis, Cohen, Fitzpatrick, Veasey, Harris, Quigley, Hudson, Lipinski, Loudermilk, Kaptur, Aderholt, Philips, Bost, Raskin, Harder, Axne
We invite you to cosponsor the bipartisan Ukraine Religious Freedom Support Act (H.R. 5408).
H.R. 5408 combats particularly severe religious freedom violations in Crimea and parts of the Donbas region. Russia invaded and has illegally occupied Crimea since February 2014 and has controlled eastern Donbas since April 2014 with the non-state armed
groups it commands. Religious freedom violations in these territories have included detention, imprisonment, and torture. Under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, Russia is responsible for religious freedom violations in these
- Would require the President of the United States to consider particularly severe violations of religious freedom in Russia-occupied or otherwise controlled territory in Ukraine when determining whether to designate Russia as a Country of Particular Concern
(CPC) for such violations under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. IFRA defines particularly severe violations as systematic, ongoing, an egregious, including torture, abduction, clandestine detention, and prolonged detention without charges. Russia
is currently on the Special Watch List of countries whose governments engage in or tolerate severe religious freedom violations
that do not meet all of IRFA’s CPC standard.
- Clarifies that Russia should be held responsible for violations in territory it occupies illegally or controls, not just for violations inside Russia’s internationally-recognized borders.
- Would state that it is the policy of the United States to apply visa sanctions to Russian government officials responsible for particularly severe religious freedom violations in Russia-controlled territory in Ukraine and to their spouses and children,
when applying the Immigration and Nationality Act as amended by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
When the President designates a country of particular concern, the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 requires the President to apply visa sanctions on individuals and take 15 actions* or commensurate action.
IRFA authorizes the President to exercise waiver authority regarding Presidential action if the President determines and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that the CPC government has ceased the violations triggering Presidential action;
if exercising waiver authority would further the purposes of IRFA; or if the important national interest of the United States requires the exercise of this waiver authority.
To cosponsor H.R. 5408, please contact Oren Adaki in Rep. Wilson’s office
Oren.Adaki@mail.house.gov, Christina Mahoney in Rep. Cleaver’s office
Christina.Mahoney@mail.house.gov, or Nathaniel Hurd at the U.S. Helsinki Commission
Joe Wilson Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress Member of Congress
* The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 requires the President to impose visa sanctions on foreign government officials who are responsible for particularly severe religious freedom violations, and their families, and take 15 actions or commensurate
action, unless the President exercises waiver authority. The actions listed in IRFA are:
- Private demarche.
- Official public demarche.
- Public condemnation.
- Public condemnation within one or more multilateral fora.
- Delaying or cancelling scientific exchanges.
- Delaying or cancelling of cultural exchanges.
- Denying working, official, or state visits.
- Delaying or cancelling one or more working, official, or state visits.
- Withdrawing, limiting, or suspending U.S. development assistance.
- Directing the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or the Trade and Development Agency not to approve the issuance of guarantees, insurance, extensions of credit, or participations in the extension of credit
with respect to the specific government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be responsible for the violations.
- Withdrawing, limiting, or suspending U.S. security assistance.
- Directing U.S. executive directors of international financial institutions to oppose and vote against loans primarily benefiting the specific foreign government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be responsible
for the violations.
- Ordering heads of appropriate U.S. agencies not to issue licenses, and not to grant specific authority to export any goods or technology to the specific foreign government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be
responsible for the violations, including under the Export Administration Act of 1979, the Arms Export Control Act, and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.
- Prohibiting any U.S. financial institution from making loans or providing credits totaling more than $10,000,000 in any 12-month period to the specific foreign government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be responsible
for the violations under section 401 or 402.
- Prohibiting the U.S. Government from procuring, or entering into any contract for the procurement of, any goods or services from the foreign government, entities, or officials found or determined by the President to be responsible for the violations.
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