H.Res. 556: Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy

H.Res. 556

Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy

Sponsor
Rep. Joe Pitts

Date
March 1, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.Res. 556 under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  The resolution was introduced by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) on February 17, 2012 and referred to the Committees on Foreign Affairs. 

Bill Summary

H.Res. 556 would condemn Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities and its continued violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The bill would also call on the Administration to designate additional Iranian officials, as appropriate, for human rights abuses pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (P.L. 111–195).

The bill would also call for the Government of Iran to release Youcef Nadarkhani and all other individuals held or charged on account of their religion.

Lastly, the bill would reaffirm that religious freedom is a universal human right and a fundamental individual freedom.

Background

The following timeline of events regarding Youcef Nadarkhani is contained in the text of the resolution:

  • October 2009, Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian, protested an Iranian law that would impose Islam on his Christian children.
  • September 2010, an Iranian court accused Mr. Nadarkhani of abandoning the Islamic faith of his ancestors, and condemned him to death for apostasy.  The Iranian court sentenced him to death by hanging.
  • December 5, 2010, Mr. Nadarkhani appealed his conviction and sentence to the Supreme Revolutionary Court in Qom, Iran, and the court held that if it could be proven that he was a practicing Muslim in adulthood, his death sentence should be carried out unless he recants his Christian faith and adopts Islam.
  • From September 25 to September 28, 2011, an Iranian court held hearings to determine if Mr. Nadarkhani was a practicing Muslim in adulthood, and held that he had abandoned the faith of his ancestors and must be sentenced to death if he does not recant his faith.

According to the resolution, on numerous occasions the judiciary of Iran offered to commute Mr. Nadarkhani’s sentence if he would recant his faith, and numerous Iranian government officials have attempted to coerce Youcef Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith and accept Islam in exchange for his freedom.  Mr. Nadarkhani continues to refuse to recant his faith, and the Government of Iran continues to indefinitely imprison him for choosing to practice Christianity.

Additionally, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran has reported that as of October 19, 2011, Iran had secretly executed 146 people during that calendar year, and in 2010, Iran secretly executed more than 300 people.

Cost

There is no CBO cost estimate available for this bill.