Text: H.R.2224 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)

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Introduced in House (05/22/2003)


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[Congressional Bills 108th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 2224 Introduced in House (IH)]






108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 2224

To provide for the payment of claims of United States prisoners of war 
             in the First Gulf War, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                              May 22, 2003

   Mrs. Capito (for herself, Mr. Goode, and Mr. Camp) introduced the 
 following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, 
  and in addition to the Committee on International Relations, for a 
 period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for 
consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the 
                          committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
To provide for the payment of claims of United States prisoners of war 
             in the First Gulf War, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

     This Act may be cited as the ``Prisoner of War Protection Act of 
2003''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

     The Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) The mistreatment of prisoners of war of the United 
        States has been a serious recurring problem in war after war, 
        and is of immediate concern to the Nation.
            (2) The United States takes great pride in the protection 
        of its service men and women, and finds intolerable the 
        recurring pattern of mistreatment of its prisoners of war.
            (3) The Third Geneva Convention mandates that prisoners of 
        war must at all times be treated humanely, and that the willful 
        killing, torture, or inhuman treatment or willfully causing 
        great suffering or serious injury to body or health are ``grave 
        breaches'' of the Convention.
            (4) Article 129 of the Third Geneva Convention mandates 
        that ``Each High Contracting Party shall be under the 
        obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or 
        to have ordered to be committed . . . grave breaches, and shall 
        bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its 
        own courts.''.
            (5) Article 131 of the Third Geneva Convention provides 
        that ``No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve 
        itself or any other High Contracting Party of any liability 
        incurred by itself or by another High Contracting Party in 
        respect of [grave] breaches . . .''.
            (6) Both the United States and the Republic of Iraq are 
        High Contracting Parties to the Third Geneva Convention, and 
        more than 170 countries, as state parties to the convention, 
        have assumed its obligations.
            (7) The Third Geneva Convention mandates that prisoners of 
        war ``must at all times be protected . . . against insults and 
        public curiosity''; the Iraqi practice in both the First and 
        Second Gulf Wars of subjecting United States prisoners of war 
        to coerced propaganda videotapes is therefore a violation of 
        the Convention.
            (8) During the First Gulf War, the House of 
        Representatives, in response to the propaganda videotapes, 
        passed House Concurrent Resolution 48 on January 23, 1991, by a 
        vote of 418-0, condemning ``the flagrant and deliberate 
        violations'' by Iraq resulting in the brutal torture and 
        inhumane treatment of United States prisoners of war during 
        that war, and the Senate, also in response to the patent abuse 
        of the prisoners of war, passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 
        on January 24, 1991, by a vote of 99-0, demanding that ``Iraq 
        abide by the principles and the obligations of the Third Geneva 
        Convention concerning the treatment of prisoners of war . . . 
        .'' and condemning Iraq's failure to do so; subsequently, Iraq 
        ignored these resolutions of the Congress and continued to 
        brutally mistreat United States prisoners of war.
            (9) Seventeen United States prisoners of war from the First 
        Gulf War and 37 of their family members have brought an 
        historic action in the United States District Court for the 
        District of Columbia against the Republic of Iraq, the Iraqi 
        Intelligence Service, and Saddam Hussein in his capacity as 
        President of the Republic of Iraq, for the brutal torture of 
        the prisoners of war while held by Iraq during the First Gulf 
        War. In this action--
                    (A) an entry of default was entered against 
                defendants on September 25, 2002; and
                    (B) the factual and legal submissions for a 
                judgment by the court, including detailed sworn 
                affidavits as to Iraq's brutal torture, were submitted 
                to the court on March 31, 2003.
        Those sworn affidavits show shocking brutality directed against 
        the United States prisoners of war by Iraq.
            (10) The Congress determined, in enacting section 
        1605(a)(7) of title 28, United States Code, permitting suit 
        against terrorist states for personal injury or death caused by 
        an act of torture, which was the legal basis for this historic 
        action against Iraq by the tortured United States prisoners of 
        war, that substantial civil damages are an important additional 
        deterrent against such acts of torture directed against 
        nationals of the United States.
            (11) The Republic of Iraq and its agencies, 
        instrumentalities, and controlled entities had approximately 
        $1,730,000,000 in blocked assets in the United States at the 
        start of the Second Gulf War.
            (12) Those assets were vested by the Executive Order 13290 
        of March 20, 2003, for the purpose of assisting in the 
        reconstruction of Iraq.
            (13) Approximately $300,000,000 of the blocked assets were 
        initially set aside for the satisfaction of civil judgments 
        obtained by United States hostages held in Iraq during the 
        First Gulf War, but no amount of the blocked assets was set 
        aside for those plaintiffs who were United States prisoners of 
        war and who, at that time, already had an entry of default 
        against Iraq.
            (14) The plaintiffs in the historic case against Saddam 
        Hussein and Iraq who were United States prisoners of war have 
        established a nonprofit Foundation for the assistance of United 
        States and Allied prisoners of war and those missing in action 
        and their families, and have pledged to the court that a 
        substantial amount of any noncompensatory damages realized from 
        the case will be donated to the new Foundation.
            (15) The Republic of Iraq has great national wealth, with 
        proven oil reserves of at least 110,000,000,000 barrels, second 
        only to Saudi Arabia, and 3 times those of the United States, 
        and when its reserves are fully developed they may even exceed 
        those of Saudi Arabia.
            (16) Other nations have not absolved Iraq of its state 
        obligations under the Third Geneva Convention arising from the 
        First Gulf War and other sources, and the torture and inhuman 
        treatment of United States prisoners of war during the First 
        Gulf War are, in any event, a ``non-absolvable liability'' of 
        the state of Iraq.
            (17) Iraq has not accounted for one of the United States 
        prisoners of war held by Iraq during the First Gulf War.
            (18) In the Second Gulf War, Iraq is in violation of the 
        Third Geneva Convention by subjecting United States prisoners 
        of war to coerced propaganda videotapes, and there are 
        disturbing reports of the willful killing and mistreatment of 
        United States prisoners of war by Iraq, violations condemned in 
        Senate Concurrent Resolution 31, which passed on April 9, 2003, 
        by a vote of 99-0, and in House Concurrent Resolution 118, 
        which passed on March 27, 2003, by a vote of 419-0.
            (19) The United States has a critical national interest in 
        ensuring the protection of United States prisoners of war, 
        enhancing compliance with the Third Geneva Convention, and in 
        taking immediate decisive action that could contribute to the 
        protection of United States prisoners of war.

SEC. 3. POLICY REGARDING PERSONS.

    (a) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States, in accordance 
with article 129 of the Third Geneva Convention, to search out and try 
before its courts persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered 
to be committed, grave breaches of the Third Geneva Convention against 
United States prisoners of war, including willful killing, torture, and 
inhumane treatment.
    (b) Implementation.--The United States will vigorously implement 
the policy set forth in subsection (a) toward those persons who have 
mistreated United States prisoners of war during the First and Second 
Gulf Wars, including those in the Iraqi Government who have ordered or 
carried out any such mistreatment.

SEC. 4. POLICIES REGARDING COUNTRIES.

    (a) Policy.--It is the policy of the United States, in accordance 
with article 131 of the Third Geneva Convention, to hold liable 
countries that commit grave breaches against United States prisoners of 
war, including willful killing, torture, and inhumane treatment. As a 
High Contracting Party to the Third Geneva Convention, the United 
States will not absolve such states of any such liability.
    (b) Payment of Claims.--In carrying out the policy set forth in 
subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury, at the request of the 
plaintiffs, shall pay from the Treasury, in full, but in an amount not 
exceeding the sum of those blocked funds of Iraq and its agencies, 
instrumentalities, and controlled entities that were vested by 
Executive Order 13290 of March 20, 2003, for the purpose of assisting 
in the reconstruction of Iraq, any judgment in Civil Action No. 02-0632 
in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia 
brought by United States prisoners of war and their family members 
against the Republic of Iraq, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and 
Saddam Hussein in his capacity as President of the Republic of Iraq, 
for the brutal torture of those United States prisoners of war during 
the First Gulf War. The United States shall be fully subrogated against 
the Republic of Iraq for payments made under this subsection.

SEC. 5. POLICY WITH RESPECT TO PRISONERS OF WAR IN SECOND GULF WAR.

     If, following the Second Gulf War, it becomes evident that United 
States prisoners of war have been killed, tortured, or mistreated 
during that war, or that the unaccounted for United States prisoner of 
war from the First Gulf War was killed or tortured by Iraq, it shall be 
the policy of the United States to support the claims of those United 
States prisoners of war and their immediate family members against the 
Republic of Iraq, for resolution on the basis of the same policy as is 
set forth in section 4.

SEC. 6. DEFINITION.

     In this Act, the term ``Third Geneva Convention'' means the Geneva 
Convention of 1949 relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
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