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Connolly Reintroduces the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act

Legislation to Hold Saudi Kingdom Accountable for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Today, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA), President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reintroduced the  Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act. The legislation would hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and Connolly’s constituent,  and impose a cost to Saudi Arabia for continuing to engage in such acts of intimidation and violence going forward. The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act last fall.


“For too long the Trump administration was willing to turn a blind eye in order to protect its relationships with the Crown Prince over and above basic American values and Jamal’s life itself,” said Connolly. “Justice for Jamal demands a complete re-evaluation of the U.S. relationship with the Kingdom. The Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act will do that.”


The Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act would:


  • Prohibit arms sales—regardless of the amount—to Saudi intelligence, internal security or law enforcement for 120 days, and for every 120 days thereafter until Saudi Arabia meets certain human rights conditions;
  • Require a report on whether Saudi authorities engaged in intimidation or harassment of Jamal Khashoggi or any individual in the United States;
  • Require the review and potential closure of Saudi diplomatic facilities if they are being used to surveil Saudi nationals living in the United States; and
  • Require the Intelligence Community to report on whether it fulfilled its duty to warn Khashoggi of an impending threat against him.


This legislation is endorsed by the ALQST for Human Rights, Center for International Policy, CODEPINK, Committee to Protect Journalists, Democracy for the Arab World Now, Freedom Forward, Freedom House, Freedom Initiative, Freedom Now, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Kawaakibi Foundation,  MENA Rights Group, PEN America, Project on Middle East Democracy, Reporters Without Borders, and the Saudi American Justice Project.

Despite bipartisan congressional efforts to hold Saudi Arabia accountable, the Trump administration continued to provide arms and military training to the Saudis.  Connolly successfully offered an amendment to the FY 2020 Appropriations Package that would bar Saudi Arabia from receiving assistance provided by the International Military Education and Training program. 


Connolly is also an original sponsor of a resolution offered by Rep. Trone calling for the cessation of all arms transfers to Saudi until certain conditions are met. That legislation will be introduced today.

Text of the legislation is available  here.

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