The co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), have introduced H.R. 352 on behalf of prisoners of conscience around the world. Amnesty International USA strongly the supports the legislation.
The prisoner of conscience resolution calls on President Obama to designate a Prisoners of Conscience Day. It also encourages members of Congress to directly tackle individual prisoner of conscience cases in their work, not just in Congress but also with the executive branch, foreign governments, multilateral organizations and their constituents.
More broadly, the legislation urges the U.S. government to take specific actions in relation to foreign governments who hold prisoners of conscience as well as implement policies and programs that broadly and consistently support human rights.
“It is our hope that H.R. 352 will further increase awareness about the Defending Freedoms Initiative and encourage more members of Congress to participate in this critical work,” said Adotei Akwei, Managing Director for Government Relations for Amnesty International USA.
H.R. 352 is part of the Defending Freedoms Initiative, which seeks to increase attention and support for human rights and freedom while mobilizing Congress on behalf of prisoners of conscience. Under the program, members of Congress select individual prisoners of conscience and advocate on their behalf. The initiative started in the U. S House of Representatives under the Lantos Human Rights Commission in collaboration with Amnesty International USA, Freedom Now, Reporters Without Borders and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.