UHRP Welcomes New US Legislation to Address Transnational Repression

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March 20, 2023 | 9:00 a.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 819-0598, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomes the introduction of legislation in the United States Senate to elevate the issue of transnational repression as a key foreign policy priority of the United States, and to hold foreign actors accountable for engaging in the practice.

“This bill represents a critical first step to tackle what Uyghurs have faced for years after fleeing repression in China,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “UHRP has worked hard to identify many of the threats from the Chinese government so that the international community can finally address it in an effective way.”

The bipartisan bill, the Transnational Repression Policy Act, was introduced by Senators ​​Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Bill Hagerty (RTN). The bill aims to hold foreign governments and individuals accountable when they engage in acts of transnational repression in the United States or US citizens abroad. In his statement announcing the bill’s introduction, Senator Merkley called it “a critical step in holding authoritarian governments accountable and providing safe haven to those fleeing repressive states.” 

“While Uyghurs in Xinjiang continue to face the Chinese Communist Party’s genocidal campaign, exiles from the Uyghur, Tibetan, Falun Gong, Christian and Hong Kong communities, who have come to our nation for protection, are now targets of transnational repression,” said Senator Rubio.

The bill would be a first step in addressing the threats, harassment, and surveillance faced by the Uyghur community in the United States, which UHRP has meticulously documented. Uyghurs in the diaspora continue to face acts of transnational repression that violate the law and their constitutional rights. Among other things, the bill would:

  • Require the US Department of State to include transnational repression in its Annual Human Rights Report, and federal departments to develop a US government strategy to address the issue;
  • Require training for U.S. government staff on identifying and understanding transnational repression, and authorize funding to develop related curriculum;
  • Instruct the intelligence community to identify perpetrators of transnational repression and their tools, and share information with partners;
  • Establish a tip line to report instances of transnational repression, and require the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to engage with communities at risk; and
  • Require the President to identify foreign individuals engaging in transnational repression for the purpose of sanctions.

The bill builds on the “Khashoggi Ban” and the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which urges INTERPOL to ensure authoritarian regimes do not misuse the agency’s resources to target dissidents and journalists.

Read more:

UHRP Research and Advocacy on Transnational Repression of Uyghurs 

UHRP Welcomes House Bill to Combat Forced Organ Harvesting, March 1, 2023

UHRP Welcomes New House Bill Addressing Uyghur Genocide in Key Provisions, January 26, 2022

UHRP Celebrates Historic Uyghur Forced Labor Bill Signed into Law, December 23, 2021

UHRP Supports U.S. Bill to Create Special Coordinator to Address Uyghur Crisis, September 30, 2021

UHRP Welcomes Senate Legislation to Support Safe Haven for Uyghurs Abroad, April 13, 2021

UHRP Welcomes Bill to Provide Uyghurs Safe Haven, March 9, 2021

UHRP Urges Worldwide Action in the Wake of U.S. Genocide Finding, January 21, 2021

UHRP Praises Congressional Action Against Uyghur Forced Labor, October 1, 2020

In Historic First, Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act Becomes Law, June 17, 2020