HCON 31 IH

109th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. CON. RES. 31

Expressing the sense of Congress with respect to human rights in Central Asia.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 26, 2005

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN (for herself and Mr. ACKERMAN) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations


CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of Congress with respect to human rights in Central Asia.

Whereas the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are providing the United States with important assistance in the war in Afghanistan, including military basing, overflight rights, and the facilitation of humanitarian relief;

Whereas America's victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan in turn provided important benefits to these Central Asian countries, removing a regime that threatened their security, and significantly weakening the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a terrorist organization that had previously staged armed raids from Afghanistan into the region;

Whereas the United States has consistently urged the countries of Central Asia to open their political systems and economies and to respect human rights, both before and since the attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001;

Whereas Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are members of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), both of which confer a range of human rights obligations on their members;

Whereas, although the United States recognizes that there are marked differences among the social structures of these Central Asian countries and their commitments to democratic and economic reform, according to the Department of State's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the governments of such countries, to differing degrees, restrict freedom of speech and association, restrict or ban the activities of human rights organizations and other nongovernmental organizations, harass or prohibit independent media, harass or imprison political opponents, practice arbitrary detention and arrest, and engage in torture and extrajudicial executions;

Whereas in March 2004, the United Nations announced the deployment of an international human rights expert in Kazakhstan as its regional adviser for Central Asia in order to provide advice and training to government officials and policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, and other international organizations;

Whereas in April 2004, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development decided to limit its investment in Uzbekistan due to the lack of progress in human rights, following the expiration of the one-year deadline the Bank had set for the Uzbek Government to meet specific human rights benchmarks as a condition for further engagement;

Whereas in July 2004, after a Department of State review of democratization in Uzbekistan, Secretary of State Colin Powell decided that the Government of Uzbekistan was not fulfilling the terms of a 2002 Strategic Partnership Framework agreement that mandated `substantial and continuing progress' on democratization, and decided not to certify Uzbekistan as eligible to receive United States assistance;

Whereas, by continuing to suppress human rights and to deny citizens peaceful, democratic means of expressing their convictions, the countries of Central Asia risk fueling popular support for violent and extremist movements, thus undermining the goals of the Global War on Terrorism;

Whereas President Bush has made the defense of `human dignity, the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women and private property and free speech and equal justice and religious tolerance' strategic goals of United States foreign policy in the Islamic world, arguing that `a truly strong nation will permit legal avenues of dissent for all groups that pursue their aspirations without violence'; and

Whereas Congress has expressed its desire to see deeper reform in the countries of Central Asia in resolutions and other legislation, most recently conditioning assistance to Uzbekistan on its progress in meeting human rights and democracy commitments to the United States: Now, therefore, be it

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