Monday, November 29, 2004

Human Rights Act removed from House Omnibus bill

The House of Representatives removed the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2004 from the omnibus bill H.R.4818, which makes appropriations for US governmental agencies in the 2005 fiscal year, before passing H.R. 4818 on November 20. The act, which has been approved overwhelmingly in the House but tabled in the Senate, would restrict non-humanitarian aid if Vietnam is judged not to have made satisfactory progress in human rights. But the bill provides a significant loophole by allowing the President to waive this punishment "..for any fiscal year if the President determines that the provision to the Government of Vietnam of increased United States nonhumanitarian assistance would promote the purposes of this Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States." The bill would also increase aid to Radio Free Asia in order to overcome jamming of the station in Vietnam. (Young People Nov 26 p2, Vietnam News Briefs, Nov. 29; text of Human Rights Act available online).

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