Smith Bill Promoting Human Rights in Belarus Becomes Law

A bill authored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) promoting democracy and human rights in Belarus was signed into law over the weekend by President George W. Bush. The “Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2006” (H.R. 5948) passed the House by a vote of 397-2 and was passed by the Senate under Unanimous Consent in the final hours of the 109th Congress. The bill reauthorizes the “Belarus Democracy Act” (P.L. 108-347), which Smith authored and passed into law in 2004.

Specifically, the law authorizes funding for each of fiscal years 2007 and 2008 for democracy-building activities such as support for non-governmental organizations, including youth groups, independent trade unions and entrepreneurs, human rights defenders, independent media, democratic political parties, and international exchanges.

The bill also authorizes funding for each fiscal year for surrogate radio and television broadcasting to the people of Belarus. In addition, this legislation expresses Congress’s will that sanctions be imposed against the Lukashenka regime, and that senior officials of the regime — as well as those engaged in human rights and electoral abuses, including lower-level officials — be denied entry into the United States.

Source: Office of U.S. Rep. Chris Smith

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