A bipartisan group of US Senators led by Jeff Merkley and Marco Rubio along with Ben Cardin and Bill Hagerty introduced the Transnational Repression Policy Act on March 16, 2023 in the US Senate. This bill “establishes a new U.S. policy to hold foreign governments and individuals accountable when they stalk, intimidate, or assault people across borders, including in the United States. The bill would also help elevate countering transnational repression as a key foreign policy priority of the United States and prioritize diplomacy that combats transnational repression as part of a broader strategy to advance democratic principles and respect for human rights, domestically and internationally.”
China is seen as one of the most frequent perpetrators of transnational repression as Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, dissidents, and others are frequently targeted. Belarus, Russia and Iran were identified as other key motivators of the bill.
“It’s terrible when authoritarian regimes oppress their people at home, but it’s an unacceptable act of aggression to target dissidents in other countries,” said Senator Merkley.
“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 U.S. must devise a strategy to counter these criminal tactics and ensure that the CCP cannot harass or attack individuals on American soil.”
The bill would:
- Include a transnational repression-specific section within the State Department’s Annual Human Rights Report.
- Require the Secretary of State along with other relevant heads of Federal departments and agencies to present a report to Congress on a U.S. strategy to address transnational repression and enhance international awareness of it.
- Require the Departments of State and Justice to work with civil society and the private sector on training for U.S. diplomatic personnel and domestic federal employees, respectively, on identifying and understanding transnational repression.
- Authorize funding for each Fiscal Year from 2024 to 2027 to develop curriculum for diplomatic personnel and domestic federal employees, respectively.
- Instruct the intelligence community to identify perpetrators of transnational repression and their tools, and share relevant information with like-minded partners.
- Establish a dedicated tip line for transnational repression reporting with the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, which would also do outreach to communities at risk.
- Require the President submit a list to Congress of foreign individuals who should have sanctions imposed on them because they, knowingly and unknowingly, directly engaged in transnational repression.
FBI Page on Transnational Repression