Bill Text
112th Congress (2011-2012)
S.1245.IS


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S.1245 -- Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2011 (Introduced in Senate - IS)

S 1245 IS

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1245

To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 22, 2011

Mr. BLUNT (for himself and Mr. LEVIN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


A BILL

To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. SPECIAL ENVOY TO PROMOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN THE NEAR EAST AND SOUTH CENTRAL ASIA.

    (a) Appointment- The President may appoint a Special Envoy To Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia (in this Act referred to as the `Special Envoy') within the Department of State. The Special Envoy shall have the rank of ambassador and shall hold the office at the pleasure of the President.

    (b) Qualifications- The Special Envoy should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of human rights and religious freedom.

SEC. 3. DUTIES.

    (a) In General- The Special Envoy shall carry out the following duties:

      (1) Promoting the right of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia, denouncing the violation of such right, and recommending appropriate responses by the United States Government when such right is violated.

      (2) Monitoring and combating acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeted against religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

      (3) Working to ensure that the unique needs of religious minority communities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia are addressed, including the economic and security needs of such communities.

      (4) Working with foreign governments of the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia to address laws that are discriminatory toward religious minority communities in such countries.

      (5) Coordinating and assisting in the preparation of that portion of the report required by sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d) and 2304(b)) relating to the nature and extent of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

      (6) Coordinating and assisting in the preparation of that portion of the report required by section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)) relating to the nature and extent of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

    (b) Coordination- In carrying out the duties under subsection (a), the Special Envoy shall, to the maximum extent practicable, coordinate with the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and other relevant Federal agencies and officials.

SEC. 4. DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATION.

    Subject to the direction of the President and the Secretary of State, the Special Envoy is authorized to represent the United States in matters and cases relevant to religious freedom in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia in--

      (1) contacts with foreign governments, intergovernmental organizations, and specialized agencies of the United Nations, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international organizations of which the United States is a member; and

      (2) multilateral conferences and meetings relevant to religious freedom in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

SEC. 5. CONSULTATIONS.

    The Special Envoy shall consult with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations and multilateral organizations and institutions, as the Special Envoy considers appropriate to fulfill the purposes of this Act.

SEC. 6. FUNDING.

    Of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available to the Secretary of State for `Diplomatic and Consular Programs' for fiscal years 2011 through 2015, the Secretary of State is authorized to provide to the Special Envoy $1,000,000 for each such fiscal year for the hiring of staff, the conduct of investigations, and necessary travel to carry out the provisions of this Act.

SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act--

      (1) the term `countries of the Near East'--

        (A) means Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen; and

        (B) includes the West Bank and Gaza; and

      (2) the term `countries of South Central Asia' means Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.



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