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ON H.R. 5285, the "Serious Human Rights Abusers Accountability Act of 2000"

September 28, 2000

Thank-you Mr. Chairman. I recognize that the crimes listed in H.R. 5285, the "Serious Human Rights Abusers Accountability Act" are internationally recognize as some of the most egregious known to man. I do believe that we should also look to expand this list. My experiences in Congress lead me to the conclusion that crimes against individuals due to their gender and sexual orientation should be explicitly singled out.

It is important that the Congress generally and this subcommittee specifically, understand that the Torture Convention is a fundamental pillar of our human rights and national interest policy. The Senate carefully deliberated over the Convention prior to ratification and we should not attempt to chip away at any of its provisions.

While the goal of this bill: to take immigration benefits away from tortures is sound, I have real concerns that the due process protections needed to prevent innocent individuals from being deported are not found in this bill.

I think that it is bad public policy for this body to remove judicial review as this bill would do. The benefits of judicial review have been clear and provisions eliminating review do not serve our country well.

I believe that our Torture Convention obligations require us to prosecute torturers found in our country and am concerned that we may be side stepping our international obligations if we do not build prosecution mechanisms into this bill.

I look forward to hearing the witnesses give their expertise on the bill, particularly Ms. Massimino from the Lawyers’ Commitee for Human Rights before I cast my vote at the mark-up on this bill today.

Thank-you Mr. Chairman.


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