“After a lengthy and productive phone conference with Mr. Kieserman, I look forward to hosting the meeting with the NJ delegation and getting to the bottom of these widespread and outrageous practices that are defrauding and cheating NJ Sandy victims, who are federal flood insurance policy holders,” Smith said. “I am pleased that FEMA has agreed with my and others’ request to review any and all potential underpayments to Sandy victims. We can now work together to establish a new, credible process moving forward.
“It is highly possible that many claimants who received reduced payments were also subject to the fraud that has been revealed in the lawsuits—i.e. altered engineering reports, the use of unlicensed engineers, and underpayment of claims due to well-under market cost estimates.” Smith said. “These homeowners must be timely notified of potential underpayments, and must be given a full opportunity to appeal their individual retrospective claim and receive full compensation.”
Smith and Kieserman discussed evidence that has come to light as the result of litigation, including fraudulent engineering reports, altered engineering reports, the use of unlicensed engineers, and in some cases, underpayments due to well-below-market cost estimates. “Mr. Kieserman assured me that FEMA will work closely with the delegation to address each and every issue facing Sandy victims and to implement necessary, fundamental reforms,” Smith said.” As I reiterated, I am prepared to assist in seeking additional statutory authority where necessary.”
Congressman Frank LoBiondo of Atlantic County, N.J. also represents a large shoreline area hit by Sandy and has been a leader in the fight for Sandy victims since the super storm hit in October 2012.
"I appreciate Chris Smith's leadership as dean of the delegation on this critical issue and throughout the post-Sandy recovery effort,” said LoBiondo (NJ-02). “I've heard from many South Jersey constituents frustrated by FEMA's claims process, wanting to finally move forward with their lives. I strongly support bringing the entire delegation together to get answers from FEMA directly."
Smith noted that the delegation has repeatedly come together to fight for Sandy victims, from securing federal Homeland Security monies for NJ, topassing supplemental disaster funding and pressing Secretary Shaun Donovan of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for additional recovery assistance. “Last May, I invited then HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to meet with the delegation when it became apparent that New Jersey homeowners were being shortchanged in disaster funding and facing arbitrary delays. At that session we secured an iron-clad commitment from Secretary Donovan to meet the critical housing needs of our constituents—resulting in an additional $881 million in HUD disaster relief funds in HUD’s third tranche for our state,” said Smith.
“We also worked together a year ago—with NFIP premiums poised to skyrocket—to push for the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, offering relief to New Jersey policyholders,” continued Smith. “Now, FEMA must restore accountability and confidence in the NFIP for the sake of its millions of policyholders, and our meeting will be the starting point.”
“I am happy to assist Manasquan in working to obtain funding to protect homes, businesses and lives in the Borough,” said Smith. “I stood on those very beaches with Mayor Dempsey in the days after Superstorm Sandy hit and committed to helping Manasquan and our other shore towns rebuild. These dunes will offer storm protection the Manasquan community and its beaches, which took a direct hit by Sandy and are very critical to the local economy.”
The Federal funding award provides $2,395,098 to Manasquan for the use of contractors for the repair of the Borough’s dunes. After the municipality concludes its local stakeholder meetings and receives local public input, the project is anticipated to include the replacement of the dunes utilizing approximately 35 thousand cubic yards of sand. Also included will be the placement of 14 thousand linear feet of snow fence and cedar fence, and 188,320 dune plantings used to control sand erosion. To access the beach, the project includes 16 gravel cross-over paths from the asphalt boardwalk; two of the 16 will be ADA-compliant and two more will be built to support emergency vehicle access.
“The Borough has been proactive in seeking funding from all possible FEMA programs. We are glad FEMA has offered the opportunity to fund an engineered dune system for our beaches,” said Manasquan CFO & Administrator Joseph DeIorio. “Recognizing the due diligence necessary for such a large undertaking, Councilman Lee, Chairman of the Beach Committee, announced this past Monday the scheduling of an open public information meeting for all stakeholders, residents, property owners and the Department of Environmental Protection.”
Federal support for the project came after Smith’s office worked with New Jersey 30th District legislators Sen. Robert Singer, Asm. Sean Kean and Asm. Dave Rible, as well as local and state officials, to move the project forward. The $2.4 million in funding covers 90 percent of the total project cost of $2,661,220. Smith had previously worked to persuade FEMA to increase the federal share from the initially-planned 75 percent to the current 90 percent for all New Jersey public assistance programs that pay for Sandy cleanup and reconstruction costs. That funding cost-share change, for which Smith advocated, accounts for an additional $400,000 in costs being paid by the Federal government.
“We have to be realistic about Iranian President Rouhani because many in the media – and some in the administration – have been reluctant to do that. Rouhani has a long history of murderous anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. The corpses are all over the globe,” said Smith, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “This is the man that our government and Prime Minister Netanyahu are dealing with. For 16 years, Rouhani ran Iran’s nuclear program. He has boasted openly of his success in using negotiations as a tool to buy time to advance his program. The question before us is whether the agreement President Obama is trying to close with Rouhani is yet another deal favorable to the Iranian government, allowing it to move the hand on the nuclear clock yet closer to midnight.”
Rep. Smith has long been a congressional leader in the fight against anti-Semitism. He is the author of the provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 that created the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the U.S. State Department. In 2009, he delivered the keynote address at the Interparliamentary Coalition Combating Anti-Semitism London conference. An outcome of his landmark 2002 hearing, “Escalating Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe,” he led a congressional drive to place the issue of combating anti-Semitism at the top of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agenda. As a result, in 2004 the OSCE adopted new norms for its 56 member states on fighting anti-Semitism. In the early 1980s, his first trips abroad as a member of Congress were to the former Soviet Union, where he fought for the release of Jewish “refuseniks,” and in the 1990s, he chaired Congress’s first hearings on anti-Semitism.
Today was Prime Minister Netanyahu’s third appearance before a joint meeting of Congress, and his second during Boehner’s speakership. His previous addresses were on July 10, 1996 and May 24, 2011. Other Israeli prime ministers to address Congress include Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin.
Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees global human rights and author of the landmark law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA, Public Law 106-386), was a keynote speaker at an event today co-hosted by the Heritage Foundation and Arizona State University’s McCain Institute. The discussion focused on modern day slavery in the U.S. and around the world, and highlighted the need to rescue women and children from the scourge of human trafficking.
Smith is the co-chair and co-founder of the House Human Trafficking Caucus and Chairman of the House subcommittee on global human rights.
“Combating modern-day slavery is everybody’s business,” Smith said, noting that major components of TVPA were opposed by the Clinton Administration until overwhelming bipartisan passage in Congress became unavoidable. “We are all in this together. Cooperation and coordination are key to mitigating—and someday ending—the cruelty of human trafficking.” Click here to read Smith’s remarks.
Other guests at the event included Cindy McCain of Human Trafficking Advisory Council, The McCain Institute for International Leadership; Holly Burkhalter, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy, International Justice Mission; Tom Kelly, Deputy Vice President for the Department of Policy and Evaluation, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and; Olivia Enos, Research Assistant at the Asian Studies Center, at the Heritage Foundation.
Smith worked closely with Burkhalter and IJM to craft the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act (H.R. 514) which among other things elevates the Trafficking In Persons Office to a “bureau” with raised status inside the State Department. H.R. 514 passed the House in January and awaits action by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Bills passed the House in January seek to protect runaways, strengthen the child welfare response to trafficking, increase law enforcement resources and criminalize advertising for the commercial exploitation of children. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made history by scheduling a dozen new bipartisan anti-human trafficking bills for consideration and passage by the House. All passed, including HR 514, “Human Trafficking Prioritization Act,” and HR 515 , “International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking,” both sponsored by Smith. HR 515 seeks to protect children from sexual predators traveling abroad to perpetrate abuse.
“Today, we need to craft additional tools spearheaded by both the government and the private sector to combat human trafficking,” Smith said. “No state or country and few industries are untouched by this pervasive human rights abuse. Traffickers use airlines, trains and buses to move their victims; hotels as a venue to exploit them; and unsuspecting buyers to pay for goods that have been made with raw materials tainted by forced and bonded labor.”
According to the International Labor Organization, as cited in the annual report issued by the U.S. State Department’s TIP Office created by Smith’s law, more than 20 million people worldwide are trafficking victims.
TVPA funds the toll-free National Human Trafficking Hotline, (888) 373-7888, which connects victims or those concerned about potential victims with assistance and rescue if needed.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has estimated that one in seven endangered runaways reported to them in 2013 was likely a trafficking victim. Researchers and non-government organizations (NGOs) estimate 200,000-300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked, and that there may be as many as 100,000 American children—mostly runaways with an average age of initial enslavement age of 13 years old—exploited in the commercial sex industry each year.
The TVPA-created TIP report uses tier rankings set by the U.S. State Department to evaluate whether governments around the world are taking adequate steps to prosecute traffickers, prevent trafficking, and protect victims. Good or bad, the record is laid out for the world to see. TVPA also created the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department. Its annual TIP Report rates nearly every nation in the world.
Since the TIP Report’s inception, more than 120 countries have enacted anti-trafficking laws and many countries have taken other steps required to significantly raise their tier rankings—citing the TIP Report as a key factor in their increased anti-trafficking response. At the April 2014 hearing, Congress also examined problems in Europe and other developed countries, such as Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Italy and others. The 2014 report confirms again that Brazil continues to have a major problem with child sex tourism, and recommends that Brazil vigorously investigate and prosecute those who engage in the prostitution of children.
In addition to the original 2000 law (P.L. 106-386) which provided for the annual reports, Smith wrote two subsequent anti-trafficking laws (PL 108-193 and PL 109-164) increasing resources for crime prevention and expanding treatment assistance for victims.
Today U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) along with Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) announced introduction of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, HR 1159, a bipartisan bill that would enhance U.S. monitoring of Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights and ensure that these issues remain a cornerstone of U.S. policy.
“The steady erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, press freedoms, and the rule of law should be concerns of freedom-loving people everywhere,” said Smith, Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Congressional Hong Kong Caucus. “A status quo U.S. policy is unsustainable if Beijing continues to insist that Hong Kong become like mainland China. Hong Kong's unique system has ensured prosperity and spurred the type of creativity and vitality that only comes with the advancement of fundamental freedoms. The special privileges the U.S. grants to Hong Kong can only endure if Beijing fulfills its longstanding obligation under international law to maintain Hong Kong’s autonomy, guarantee human rights and allow free and fair elections in 2017 and beyond.”
Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “When the British returned the city of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, Beijing promised that Hong Kong would retain its special rights and autonomy. Beijing also set the expectation that, in 2017, the people of Hong Kong would be allowed to elect a leader through ‘universal suffrage.’ Recent events, including the August 2014 decision that proscribed limitations on Hong Kong’s electoral process, make clear Beijing intends instead to maintain a firm grasp on Hong Kong’s political development. My concern is not just about election mechanics but about Hong Kong’s future as an open society under Beijing’s ‘one country, two systems’ regime.”
"U.S. policy toward mainland China has for too long strived to engage the corrupt and gangster regime which rules that country,” said Rohrabacher, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. “The future of China lies with its people, who value universal human rights, free expression and the rule of law. The Chinese Communist Party's subversion of democracy and civil society in Hong Kong is just the latest crime in their shameful history. Our government should stand with the free people Hong Kong and work to promote democracy there as in all of China."
“In 2014, the world watched as thousands of Hong Kong’s citizens voiced their desire for universal suffrage and real electoral reform,” said Rep. Lipinski (IL-3) “U.S. policy must respond to the message the demonstrators sent, ensuring that Hong Kong maintains a democratic course in its elections, and preserves its political and economic autonomy from mainland China. This bill is an important step towards protecting Hong Kong’s status and I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation. Efforts to silence the people of Hong Kong’s independent voice will undoubtedly have a serious impact on China’s relationship with the many nations of this world that stand for democracy and freedom.”
The legislation updates the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 by reinstating the U.S. State Department’s annual report on conditions in Hong Kong of interest to the United States. The bill would require the Secretary of State to certify annually that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous before enacting any new laws or agreements affording Hong Kong different treatment from the People’s Republic of China. The legislation would also allow the Secretary of State to waive the certification requirement on national security grounds.
Since Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Hong Kong was supposed to enjoy a “high degree of autonomy” and freedoms that do not exist in mainland China. Based on a 2007 decision by Beijing’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NSCSC), Hong Kong citizens expected to be allowed to freely elect their Chief Executive in 2017 and the entire Legislative Council in 2020 through “universal suffrage” elections. This past year, however, China took steps that erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, including an August 2014 decision by the National People’s Congress (NPC) that raised very serious concerns that only pro-Beijing candidates would be nominated for Chief Executive in 2017.
The Hong Kong government is expected to finish a public consultation on electoral reform in March 2015 and shortly afterward propose a plan to conduct elections. Given the tens of thousands of Hong Kong people who demonstrated peacefully last year for democratic reforms, the Hong Kong and Chinese governments should seek new proposals for electoral reform, instead of insisting that any proposal adhere to the restrictive August 2014 NPC decision. The Hong Kong police have arrested hundreds of participants from the 2014 protests and threatened prosecution.
"American Heart Month is a critical public awareness tool that helps promote heart-healthy lifestyles, with a focus on prevention and incorporating a healthy diet and exercise into all of our daily lives.
"Last Congress, I was honored to accept the position of co-chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition. For nearly 20 years, the Coalition has served as a resource for all members of Congress and worked to advance federal policies that raise the quality of life for individuals with heart disease... ."
Human rights abuses in Iran, including the holding of American prisoners and widespread persecution of religious minorities, were the topics of a House hearing Thursday held by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the Africa and global human rights subcommittee, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee.
“At a time when the Administration seems keen to reach a nuclear accord that relies on trust in the Iranian regime and perhaps even a de facto collaboration in the fight against ISIS, it is wise to consider and scrutinize the dismal human rights record of this country with which we are currently conducting negotiations based on good faith,” Smith said. “How they treat their own people is illustrative of how they see and will treat outsiders.” Click here to read Chairman Smith’s statement.
Smith noted “the current Department of State human rights report states that Iranian human rights violations include disappearances; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging; rape, politically motivated violence and repression, harsh and life-threatening conditions in detention and prison facilities, with instances of deaths in custody; arbitrary arrest and lengthy pretrial detention, sometimes incommunicado.”
The witnesses at the joint congressional hearing, entitled “The Shame of Iranian Human Rights,” were:
Shayan Arya, Central Committee Member, Constitutionalist Party of Iran (Liberal Democrat);
Mohsen Sazegara, President of the Research Institute on Contemporary Iran, and;
Anthony Vance, Director of the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs.Arya testified that a detailed study of Iranian school curriculums concluded that the Islamic Republic uses schoolbooks to systematically indoctrinate children and to prepare them for war against America and other “nonbelievers,” and systematically encourages a hostile attitude towards non-Muslims, with children instructed to not to take unbelievers, such as Jews and Christians, as friends.
“Despite his moderate posture and diplomatic language, Mr. Rouhani is part of the problem,” Arya said. “As a member of Iran’s National Security Council, not only is he aware of the contents of Iran’s curriculum; he helped to approve them. Against this background, is it any surprise that almost all religious minority in Iran: Baha’is, Christians, Sufi’s or Dervish Muslims, Sunnis and Ahle-Hagh suffer officially sanctioned discrimination?” Click here to read Arya’s testimony.
Sazegara, President of Research Institute on Contemporary Iran, said imprisonment of human rights activists, journalists, bloggers, university students and teachers, workers, ethnic and religious minorities, and political opposition continues.
“During the last three and a half decades, the Iranian people have bitterly experienced suppression of their fundamental freedoms and rights, and witnessed brutal crackdowns of pro-freedom movements in Iran,” Sazegara said. “I deeply regret to say that extensive and systematic violations of human rights, persecutions, unfair trials, unfounded imprisonments, tortures, rapes and extrajudicial executions still continue, despite the pledges Mr. Rouhani had made to change this trend during his election campaign in 2013.” Click here to read his testimony.
Vance, representing the Bahá’ís of the United States, testified about the suffering of the 300,000 members of the Bahá’í community in Iran, the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the country.
“The government has made concerted efforts to impoverish and quietly suffocate the Bahá’í community,” Vance said. “After the Revolution, Bahá’ís were dismissed from government jobs and denied pensions and private employers have been pressured not to hire Bahá’ís. Bahá’ís still suffer frequent raids on their homes and businesses, including a recent spate of shop closures, and their property is routinely seized with compensation. Bahá’ís were also dismissed from university positions after the Revolution, and Bahá’í students continue to be excluded from the nation’s universities.”
Vance said the U.S. government has shown clear leadership in promoting the rights of Bahá’ís and condemning injustice. Since the 1980s, U.S. presidents and both houses of the U.S. Congress have consistently passed resolutions denouncing the treatment of the Bahá’ís and calling for an end to these continuing abuses.
“It is our hope that, at the March session of the UN Human Rights Council, the United States and other responsible nations will emphasize the persecution of the Bahá’ís – and the oppression of countless other Iranians – and will hold the Iranian government to account for its gross violations of the human rights of its citizens,” he said. Click here to read Vance’s testimony.
Smith said he is also concerned about fate of Americans imprisoned in Iran—including Pastor Saeed Abedini, Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezian.
Click here to watch the hearing.
By Peter Foster, Washington Bureau
8:00AM GMT 25 Feb 2015
Hillary Clinton’s account of one of her crowning moments as secretary of state has been flatly contradicted by a leading Chinese activist.
Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who escaped house arrest and caused an diplomatic crisis between China and the US by taking refuge in the American embassy in Beijing in 2012, accused the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton of “giving in” to Chinese negotiators.
His escape to the embassy coincided with a visit by Mrs Clinton to Beijing.
The lawyer, who was eventually allowed to go the US to study, made the claims in a damning new memoir that is likely to stir controversy over Mrs Clinton’s record at the State Department as she prepares for a potential presidential run in 2016.
The rescue of the 43-year-old “barefoot lawyer” featured prominently in Mrs Clinton’s manifesto-memoir, Hard Choices, as a triumph of white-knuckle diplomacy that also respected Mr Chen’s individual rights and wishes.
She wrote that “we had done what Chen said he wanted every step of the way”, echoing her public remarks at the time in Beijing that “all of our efforts with Mr Chen have been guided by his choices and our values”.
But Mr Chen, while expressly grateful for being given refuge first at the embassy and later in the US, directly contradicted Mrs Clinton in his 322-page memoir The Barefoot Lawyer, a copy of which has been seen by The Telegraph.
"The country that most consistently advocated for democracy [...] had simply given in"
Far from having his wishes respected, Mr Chen described how he was relentlessly “pressured to leave” the embassy for a Beijing hospital and forced to accept an “absurdly inadequate” deal on pain of the Chinese government accusing him of treason.
“What troubled me most at the time was this: when negotiating with a government run by hooligans, the country that most consistently advocated for democracy, freedom, and universal human rights had simply given in,” he wrote.
Mr Chen, a self-taught lawyer from Shandong Province who has been blind since infancy, described how the initial elation of his reaching the safety of the embassy on April 26, 2012, was soon overtaken by the “colder, clearer realities” of two great powers reaching a face-saving deal.
After his escape from house arrest in his village of Dongshigu under the noses of scores of locally hired guards – described in detail at the start of the book – Mr Chen said he hoped the US would be able to negotiate for him to work and write freely in China.
Christian Bale tries to visit Chen Guangcheng in his home village
But as pressure mounted on him to leave the embassy, Mr Chen described the “disappointment and despair” of having to accept a deal that he felt offered no security to himself, or his family and would not stop the Chinese from again restricting his freedoms.
“I hadn’t expected so many people on both sides would be working so hard to get me to leave, without guaranteeing my rights or my family’s safety,” he wrote.
“No one seemed to be putting pressure on the Chinese Communist Party; instead they were dumping shipping containers of weight onto my shoulders to get me to do their bidding. Suddenly I was overcome by sadness and wept.”
In the end Mr Chen, who made his name helping women abused under China’s one child policy and spent more than six years in various forms of detention as a result of his work, said he felt he had no choice but to leave the safety of the US embassy compound.
Mr Chen then went to the hospital but the deal to allow him to study at a Chinese university rapidly unravelled as Mr Chen said he felt the “noose” of Chinese security tightening back around him and suddenly abandoned by the US embassy who initially did not answer their phones.
It was then that Mr Chen appealed publicly appealed to be allowed to go to the United States, memorably speaking live via mobile phone to a specially convened US Congressional committee hearing in Washington DC, saying he no longer felt safe.
In his book Mr Chen singles out the committee chair, Chris Smith and several other Congressional leaders, for proving to be “principled and fearless friends of the Chinese people” - in implicit contrast to Mrs Clinton and the White House.
Three years after leaving China, Mr Chen is now living in Washington DC with his wife and two primary-school age children, and is learning English and working as a fellow in human rights at the Witherspoon Institute, a Princeton-based think-tank.
“Japan remains breathtakingly unresponsive,” said Smith (NJ-04), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights who has fought to assist American parents desperately trying to bring their children back home to the U.S. “I remain especially concerned about those abductions that occurred prior to Japan’s ratification of the Hague Convention. New Jersey resident and Iraq war vet Michael Elias, and numerous parents from the non-government organization BAC Home, have been utterly frustrated.”
In addition to Elias’ children abducted six years ago—Jade, now 9 and Michael, now 7—Smith also highlighted the case of Bindu Philips, another New Jersey resident and mother of twin boys, Alfred and Albert, now 14, abducted to India six years ago.
“Bindu won full custody of the children in our American courts,” Smith said noting that authorities in India have simply ignored that fact. “She testified before my subcommittee two years ago, and this past Monday I met with her again and she pleaded that you, Mr. Secretary, help her get her kids back.”
Smith noted that India now ranks fourth in the world in the number of unresolved cases, and asked Kerry if he and/or the President had raised child abduction cases with Prime Minister Modi when they met in late January.
“Did you raise child abduction with an emphasis on specific cases, like Bindu Philips, when you met with Modi in early January? What was Mr. Modi’s response?” Smith asked.
Kerry replied that as a matter of course he regularly raises cases of “missing Americans,” but he did not respond directly to Smith’s questions regarding the case of the Philips boys. Smith also noted that several deadlines have arrived or are imminent pursuant to the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, and asked the Secretary to again personally engage in the issue.
“I thank you again for your strong, personal support of the new law,” Smith said, but reiterated to Kerry that his help is needed on the development and implementation of the new law including developing Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) with non-Hague treaty countries with unresolved child abduction case such as India.
“We have a caseload of about a thousand international parental abduction cases, and we are trying to expand the Hague abduction convention to efforts throughout the world,” Kerry said. “We have approximately 75 professionals who are full-time, assisting parents with respect to this horrendous plight that they face. There’s nothing worse, obviously. And I applaud and thank you for your constant focus on these issues, Congressman. You’re really the primary focus of the entire Congress on this and we appreciate it enormously.”
After the hearing Smith said he was “deeply concerned” about the pace of implementation of the new Goldman Act and will be hosting a series of hearings over the next several weeks “to ensure full and faithful implementation of the act so that we truly help parents as they fight to bring home their abducted American children.”
Jeffery Morehouse, Executive Director of Bring Abducted Children Home (BAC Home), commented on the hearing.
“The strong and passionate words this morning at the hearing with Secretary Kerry are greatly appreciated and will help signal to Japan that becoming a signatory will not let them off the hook from their moral, ethical and legal responsibilities to victimized parents and children,” Morehouse said.
Smith raised several other issues with the Secretary including:
Smith has been fighting for the release of Pastor Abedini and the other Americans in Iran, and protecting vulnerable religious minorities in the Middle East, China, Vietnam, Central Asia, and Africa. He has promoted religious freedom and other human rights issues as chairman and co-chairman of the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.S. Commission on China.
February 24, 2015
U.S. REP. CHRIS Smith (R-Dist. 4) gave the keynote address to a gathering of over 300 people at the Center for Jewish Life dinner held Feb. 8 in Marlboro.
CJL religious leader Rabbi Yossi Kanelsky presented Smith with an award for his “outstanding leadership and vision and for confronting anti-Semitism at home and abroad.”
Smith, who is cochair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, is the author of the provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 that created the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the U.S. State Department. In the early 1980s, his first trips abroad as a congressman were to the former Soviet Union, where he fought for the release of Jewish “refuseniks.”
“When political leaders fail to lead or denounce anti-Semitic violence, the void is not only demoralizing to the victims but silence actually enables the wrongdoing,” Smith said. “History has taught us that silence is not an option. It has been said that to sin by silence when they should speak makes cowards of men. We must do more.”
Joshua Block, CEO and president of the Israel Project based in Washington, DC, also addressed the gathering, saying Smith has issued a powerful call “for elected officials on both sides of the aisle and civic and religious leaders of all faiths and backgrounds to fight the rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world and here at home….”
At the event, Yan and Lena Feldman were named Guests of Honor, Alexander and Tatyana Smertenko received the Community Service Award; Igor and Irina Cherny, the Community Partnership Award; and Israel Libus, the Lifetime Achievement Award.
This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2015 at:
2373 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Elected in 1980, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Robbinsville, N.J.) is currently in his 17th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and serves residents in the Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey. Smith, 60, currently serves as a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and is chairman of its Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee. In 2011-2012 he chaired both the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He also serves as “Special Representative” on Human Trafficking for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an executive member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Previously, he served as Chairman of the Veterans Committee (two terms) and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations and the Subcommittee on Africa.
Smith has long chaired a number of bipartisan congressional caucuses (working groups) including the Pro-life (31 years), Autism (15 years), Alzheimer’s (13 years), Lyme Disease (nineyears), Spina Bifida (nine years), Human Trafficking (nine years), Refugees (nine years), and Combating Anti-Semitism caucuses, and serves on caucuses on Bosnia, Uganda and Vietnam.
According to the independent watchdog organization Govtrack, as of January 2014 Smith ranks fourth among all 435 Members of the House over the last two decades in the number of laws authored.
He is the author of America’s three landmark anti-human trafficking laws including The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, a comprehensive law designed to prevent modern-day slavery, protect victims, and enhance civil and criminal penalties against traffickers, as well as more than a dozen veterans health, education and homeless benefits laws, and laws to boost embassy security, promote democracy, religious freedom, and health care.
Smith is the author of the $265 million Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 which established a nationwide program for ethical research and treatment using umbilical cord blood and bone marrow cells. That landmark law was reauthorized in September 2010 for another five years.
In October 2011, Smith’s bill, HR 2005, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) of 2011, was signed into law (Public Law PL112-32), a follow-up to his Autism Statistics, Surveillance, Research, and Epidemiology Act (ASSURE) of 2000.
A lifelong New Jerseyan, Congressman Smith graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in business administration. Prior to being elected to Congress, he helped run a small business– his family’s wholesale sporting goods corporation. He is also the former Executive Director of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee.
The congressman is married to his wife of 35 years, Marie, and they have four grown children.
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