Freedom From Religious Persecution Act of 1997
(Introduced in the Senate)
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Freedom From Religious
Persecution Act of 1997'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
The Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Governments have a primary responsibility to promote,
encourage, and protect respect for the fundamental and internationally
recognized right to freedom of religion.
(2) The right to freedom of religion is recognized by
numerous international agreements and covenants, including the
(A) Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights states that `Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his
religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with
others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
teaching, practice, worship and observance'.
(B) Article 18 of the Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights declares that `Everyone shall have the right to freedom of
thought, conscience, and religion . . .' and further delineates the
privileges under this right.
(3) Persecution of religious believers, particularly Roman
Catholic and evangelical Protestant Christians, in Communist countries,
such as Cuba, Laos, the People's Republic of China, North Korea, and
Vietnam, persists and in some cases is increasing.
(4) In many Islamic countries and regions thereof,
governments persecute non-Muslims and religious converts from Islam
using means such as `blasphemy' and `apostasy' laws, and militant
movements seek to corrupt a historically tolerant Islamic faith and
culture through the persecution of Baha'is, Christians, and other
(5) The militant, Islamic Government of Sudan is waging a
self-described religious war against Christian, non-Muslim, and moderate
Muslim persons by using torture, starvation, enslavement, and
(6) In Tibet, where Tibetan Buddhism is inextricably linked
to the Tibetan identity, the Government of the People's Republic of
China has intensified its control over the Tibetan people by perverting
the selection of the Panchen Lama, propagandizing against the religious
authority of the Dalai Lama, restricting religious study and traditional
religious practices, and increasing the persecution of monks and
(7) The United States Government is committed to the right
to freedom of religion and its policies and relations with foreign
governments should be consistent with the commitment to this
(8) The 104th Congress recognized the facts set forth in
this section and stated clearly the sense of the Senate and the House of
Representatives regarding these matters in approving--
(A) House Resolution 515, expressing the sense of the
House of Representatives with respect to the persecution of Christians
(B) S. Con. Res. 71, expressing the sense of the Senate
with respect to the persecution of Christians worldwide;
(C) H. Con. Res. 102, concerning the emancipation of
the Iranian Baha'i community; and
(D) section 1303 of H.R. 1561, the Foreign Relations
Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1996 and 1997.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
(1) DIRECTOR- The term `Director' means the Director of the
Office of Religious Persecution Monitoring established under section
(2) PERSECUTED COMMUNITY- The term `persecuted community'
means any religious group or community identified in section
(3) PERSECUTION FACILITATING PRODUCTS, GOODS, AND SERVICES-
The term `persecution facilitating products, goods, and services' means
those products, goods, and services which are being used or determined
to be intended for use directly and in significant measure to facilitate
the carrying out of acts of religious persecution.