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house Bill H.R. 6207

Should Sanctions Against Congolese Officials for Human Rights Abuses Be Codified As Law?

Argument in favor

Congo’s elections have been delayed for two years, causing violence and political unrest in the country, and its president is using violence, coercion, and other unsavory, illegal tactics to hold onto power. Congress needs to pass this bill to protect Congolese citizens and the upcoming election.

Doug's Opinion
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11/28/2018
No President should rule by Executive Order. Congress makes the laws as the legislative branch. The President should execute then, since that is the function of the executive branch. Congress should stop shirking it’s basic duty and enact laws on many topics and pass budgets on time.
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Linda's Opinion
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11/28/2018
When human rights are affected I am of a firm belief that those who committed acts against human rights should be brought to justice, no matter who they are or where they are from.
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Maddogdow's Opinion
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11/28/2018
All of you making comments are the children. I thank our Rep Pittenger and our President for passing this bill..Also, Executive Order is necessary when you have stupid people in another party who refuse to come in by partisan way to pass laws that are important to American people and our well being. You people are being the children. You need to get the books and study our Government..Folks at border are thier illegally. They deserve nothing but jail if they cross over. You people need to grow up! MSG Retired Matthew Dow US Army Airborne/DAV
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Argument opposed

The Trump administration has already expressed its support for sanctions against Congo, levying sanctions against corrupt government officials and others associated with the regime. This bill doesn’t add anything new to existing sanctions.

Marty's Opinion
···
11/28/2018
Not until we stop committing human rights abuses in the United States. Tear gassing legal asylum seekers. Children in concentration camps. Bombing citizens in Yemen. We are not a good example for humane rights any longer.
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David 's Opinion
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11/28/2018
Until we stop acting like petulant children in our own backyard, we have no business telling other governments to take the high road.
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PatriotQNV's Opinion
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11/28/2018
Why just Congo? What about china, saudi arabia ect.. until we Americans stop acting like children, we should not tell other countries to take the high road. America should not interfere in the soverignty of another nation as we dont want other nations interfering with ours.
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What is House Bill H.R. 6207?

This bill would codify as law certain sanctions relating to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that were imposed under executive orders. It’d require the president to compile a list of senior DRC officials and determine whether they should be sanctioned by engaging in human rights abuses, corruption, or the DRC’s ongoing conflict. Sanctions would include freezing assets held in the U.S. and prohibiting entry into the U.S.

The president would also be required to report to Congress on his decisions to impose sanctions against DRC officials, and to report on human rights abuses by, and corrupt practices of, DRC officials.

This bill also supports ongoing efforts by both the United Nations and U.S. governmental organizations, including the State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to promote peace, support freedom of expression, combat public corruption, and improve government transparency and accountability in the DRC.

Impact

State Department; USAID; UN; Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the president.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6207

$500.00 Thousand
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,000 each year, and less than $1 million over the 2019-2023 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) introduced this bill to promote free and fair elections in the DRC by imposing sanctions on high-level individuals who are undermining democratic processes and institutions in the country, as well as those who are responsible for extrajudicial killings or who have engaged in public corruption:

“With respect to the ongoing political situation in the DRC, President Joseph Kabila has deliberately stalled planned elections despite completing his constitutionally mandated

two terms. The Congolese government and security forces have curtailed anti-government mobilization through excessive use of force on peaceful protestors, shut downs of media outlets, and targeted arrests of activists. At the same time, the majority of Congolese people believe that President Kabila should have stepped down from office when his term expired in December 2016; to date, elections have been delayed. As a consequence of political insecurity and violence, more than 1.4 million people have been internally displaced, while greater than 30,000 Congolese have fled the country. Approximately 7.7 million people in the DRC are acutely food insecure according to the United Nations. The United States Congress has provided significant development aid, security assistance, and emergency humanitarian assistance to the DRC. This bill will continue to provide robust assistance and collaborate with international relief organizations to respond to existing and emerging needs. The U.S. has been committed to stability in the DRC[,] including promoting free and fair elections[,] and [this bill] is a step in that direction.”

Cosponsor Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) adds that this bill responds to Congolese citizens’ long-standing calls for the international community to hold the ruling party accountable for its actions:

“Congolese citizens have long called for the international community to play a role in holding the ruling party accountable to their country’s constitution. This bill responds to that request. Escalating domestic instability and increased tension and unrest caused by continued delays in elections have lead to an increased number of refugees and internally displaced persons. These developments have the potential to impact the entire region. It is our hope that this bill encourages political stability such that the Democratic Republic of Congo can take adequate steps to mitigate conflict, implement peacemaking initiatives, and respond to humanitarian needs.”    

Jewish World Watch (JWW) supports this bill. The organization’s executive director, Susan Freudenheim, and advocacy and grantmaking director, Ann Strimov Durbin, write:

“Tear gas fired into maternity wards. Pro-democracy protesters arrested, tortured, wounded, some even killed. Children attacked with machetes. Villages reduced to ash. These scenes were witnessed in recent days by the Jewish World Watch (JWW) field representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In his war-torn country, he is the eyes and ears of JWW, which was founded in 2004 to fight genocide and mass atrocities. The political situation in the DRC is so perilous that he asked that we not use his name… A recent and rare bipartisan effort by the U.S. Congress aims to ensure the Congolese people can exercise their democratic rights, through the ‘Democratic Republic of the Congo Democracy and Accountability Act’ (H.R. 6207)... The bill expresses U.S. security concerns over the political violence, conflicts, corruption and humanitarian crises ravaging Congo and destabilizing the region. It also codifies sanctions against senior Congolese political figures — precisely the weighty pressure that Congolese civil society has been pushing for. U.S. lawmakers have reason for concern. Kabila has repeatedly broken promises to allow free and fair elections to replace him, so his declaration of new elections to take place this December has brought more instability than joy… Yet the Congolese continue to hope for peace, and we can ask our leaders in Congress to lend their support.”

The Enough Project’s Deputy Director of Policy, Sasha Lezhnev, adds that this bill is needed to ensure credible elections in the DRC:

“Congress is sending a strong message to Congo’s Kabila that unless there is a successful democratic transfer of power through a credible election process, it will require new sanctions and other financial consequences for his inner circle and the companies they control.  This bill is a powerful new tool to make that happen and strongly support democracy and human rights in Congo.”

The Trump administration has indicated its willingness to impose sanctions against Kabila’s regime in order to dissuade him from trying to hold on to power. A senior administration official said, “[We] stand ready to apply sanctions to individuals or entities, regardless of who they are, who undermine the democratic process, or threaten the peace and security of the country.”

This bill passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs by a unanimous vote with the support of 21 cosponsors, including 16 Democrats and five Republicans, as well as the support of Jewish World WatchForeign Policy for America, and Enough Project.


Of NoteHuman Rights Watch (HRW) reports that Congolese security forces and armed groups have killed thousands of civilians from 2016 to 2018. Most of the recent violence is linked to the DRC’s political crisis caused by President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to delay elections and use of violence, repression, and corruption to hold on to power beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit on December 19, 2016. HRW says:

“Kabila has presided over a system of entrenched impunity in which those most responsible for abuses are routinely rewarded with positions, wealth, and power. Congolese security forces have carried out or orchestrated much of the violence, in some cases by creating or backing local armed groups. Well-placed security and intelligence sources have told us that efforts to sow violence and instability are an apparently deliberate ‘strategy of chaos’ to justify further election delays.”

In June 2018, the U.S. imposed sanctions and visa bans on top DRC officials for corruption linked to election delays and human rights abuses. Before that, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on one of President Kabila’s most senior military officials in June 2017, and on Dan Gertler, an Israeli businessman and close friend of President Kabila, in December 2017.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / MarkRubens)

AKA

Democratic Republic of the Congo Democracy and Accountability Act of 2018

Official Title

To support democracy and accountability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed November 28th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 374 Yea / 11 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedJune 25th, 2018

Log in or create an account to see how your Reps voted!
    No President should rule by Executive Order. Congress makes the laws as the legislative branch. The President should execute then, since that is the function of the executive branch. Congress should stop shirking it’s basic duty and enact laws on many topics and pass budgets on time.
    Like (41)
    Follow
    Share
    Not until we stop committing human rights abuses in the United States. Tear gassing legal asylum seekers. Children in concentration camps. Bombing citizens in Yemen. We are not a good example for humane rights any longer.
    Like (60)
    Follow
    Share
    Until we stop acting like petulant children in our own backyard, we have no business telling other governments to take the high road.
    Like (42)
    Follow
    Share
    Why just Congo? What about china, saudi arabia ect.. until we Americans stop acting like children, we should not tell other countries to take the high road. America should not interfere in the soverignty of another nation as we dont want other nations interfering with ours.
    Like (30)
    Follow
    Share
    When human rights are affected I am of a firm belief that those who committed acts against human rights should be brought to justice, no matter who they are or where they are from.
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    All of you making comments are the children. I thank our Rep Pittenger and our President for passing this bill..Also, Executive Order is necessary when you have stupid people in another party who refuse to come in by partisan way to pass laws that are important to American people and our well being. You people are being the children. You need to get the books and study our Government..Folks at border are thier illegally. They deserve nothing but jail if they cross over. You people need to grow up! MSG Retired Matthew Dow US Army Airborne/DAV
    Like (9)
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    Yes, violations of human rights by anyone, anywhere, is wrong and should be punished.
    Like (8)
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    Why just the Congo? Why not also Saudi Arabia, Iran and many others?
    Like (8)
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    EXTEND DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO SANCTIONS Congo’s elections have been delayed for two years, causing violence and political unrest in the country, and its president is using violence, coercion, and other unsavory, illegal tactics to hold onto power. Congress needs to pass this bill to protect Congolese citizens and the upcoming election. SneakyPete..... 11*27*28......
    Like (5)
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    Makes me wonder what is different about the Congolese and, say, places like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Russia? Hmmm. Such a mystery.
    Like (4)
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    LET'S NOT TRY TO BECOME THE GLOBAL "SERVE AND PROTECT" FORCE. WE NEED TO CLEAN UP OUR SIDE OF THE STREET FIRST.
    Like (3)
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    We don’t have the moral high ground to ask for this right now. Sadly
    Like (3)
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    Congo’s elections have been delayed for two years, causing violence and political unrest in the country, and its president is using violence, coercion, and other unsavory, illegal tactics to hold onto power. Congress needs to pass this bill to protect Congolese citizens and the upcoming election.
    Like (2)
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    Africa is a much more important region of the world than many people understand. We have many strong, productive allies in the African Union, but Nations like Congo give the region a bad rep. We must hold the Congolese Government accountable, not just by Executive Order, but also through Congressional action and US Law. We can not afford to allow DRC to become another haven for Radical Islamic Terrorism in the region.
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    All human rights have to be protected.
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    Yes but only under United Nation Jurisdiction ......as they have not committed any crimes on US soil.
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    We no longer have the moral authority to criticize let alone sanction other nations. The actions and behaviors of our nation under our current President and his Party have caused us to abdicate ANY right to present ourselves as a moral and ethical model. We have given up our integrity.
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    We should focus on our problems such as supporting racism, xenophobia, homophobia,,licenses to use guns, and better background checks , non support of dictators, a president who lies constantly and only cares about money and does not allow any disagreements, eyc
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    Always.
    Like (1)
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    This is totally ridiculous. Unacceptable behavior for a president to act this way. Drunk on power and control. Humans have rights no matter what country they live in. If u have been voted out, leave gracefully. Concerns this could happen here with our cu
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