Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act Passes U.S. House of Representatives

For immediate release

May 27, 2020 5:53 pm EDT

Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) (202) 790-1795, (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project thanks the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020. As the first legislation passed in response to the human rights crisis in East Turkistan, this law will help ensure that the issue is on the global policy agenda. It also demonstrates strong bipartisan commitment to human rights among U.S.  elected officials.

As the bill moves to the president’s desk to be signed into law, UHRP wishes to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Rep. Chris Smith, Rep. Tom Souzzi, Rep. Brad Sherman, Rep. Ted Yoho, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Elliot Engel, Rep. Mike McCaul, Rep. Jennifer Wexton, and all the members of the House of Representatives who have been working tirelessly to address the Uyghur Crisis.

“The House and Senate have shown true global leadership,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “This is a signal to the entire world that now is the time to take action to end the Chinese government’s atrocities in East Turkistan.”

Among the bill’s provisions are a requirement that the President impose visa bans and financial sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims under the provisions of the Global Magnitsky Act. Another key provision is an FBI report to the Congress on efforts to protect Uyghurs from Chinese government intimidation and harassment on U.S. soil, one of UHRP’s advocacy priorities. UHRP documented this pressing issue in an August 2019 report, Repression Across Borders: The CCP’s Illegal Harassment and Coercion of Uyghur Americans.

In a floor statement on December 3, when the House overwhelmingly passed an earlier version of the bill, Rep. Chris Smith said, “We cannot be silent. We must demand an end to these barbaric practices and accountability from the Chinese government. We must say ‘never again’ to the cultural genocide and the atrocities suffered by Uyghurs and others in China.”

The Congress is already considering additional measures. In March 2020, the House and Senate introduced the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. As Rep. Jim McGovern noted in December, “[w]hile current U.S. law prohibits the import of any product made with forced labor, much more needs to be done to ensure that Americans are not purchasing products from companies that are complicit in human rights violations.” UHRP thanks the Congressional-Executive Commission on China for its report on Uyghur forced labor and global supply chains, and is tremendously grateful to Rep. McGovern and Rep. Chris Smith and the other co-sponsors in the House, and to Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Jeff Merkley and the other co-sponsors in the Senate.

UHRP also applauds continued steps taken by the U.S. Department of Commerce to effectively respond to the ongoing human rights crisis in East Turkistan, and notes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic appointment of a Uyghur American, attorney and UHRP Board Chair Nury Turkel, as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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