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House Passes Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act in FY23 NDAA

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act as part of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation was sponsored by Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ).  The legislation aims to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the Crown Prince’s ongoing global intimidation and harassment campaign against dissidents, journalists, and human rights activists. This bill ensures justice and accountability more than three years after Jamal’s death, and imposes a cost to Saudi Arabia for continuing to engage in such acts of intimidation and violence going forward.

“The U.S. intelligence report assessing the role of the Saudi government in the cold-blooded murder of my constituent, Jamal Khashoggi, clearly and definitively lays responsibility on the Crown Prince.” Connolly said. “The House has sent a clear and forceful message to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and perpetrators of gross human rights abuses. Impunity stops with this legislation. I thank my friends Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tom Malinowski for joining me in this critical effort, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to get this legislation signed into law.”

Specifically, the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act:

  • Limits arms exports to Saudi intelligence, internal security, or law enforcement entities if the President finds that Saudi Arabia has engaged in:
    • Forced repatriation, intimidation, or killing of dissidents in other countries.
    • The unjust imprisonment of American citizens in Saudi Arabia or arbitrary travel bans placed on U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia.
    • And the torture of detainees in the custody of the Government of Saudi Arabia.
  • Requires the closure of one or more Saudi diplomatic facilities if the President finds that Saudi is using diplomatic or consular personnel to harass or harm Saudi nationals in the United States.
  • Requires a report on whether Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a consistent pattern of acts of intimidation or harassment directed against individuals in the United States.
  • Requires a report on whether the U.S. intelligence community fulfilled its duty to warn Jamal Khashoggi of threats to his life. 

Text of the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act as is available here

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