22 U.S. Code § 1741 - Assistance for United States nationals unlawfully or wrongfully detained abroad

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(a) ReviewThe Secretary of State shall review the cases of United States nationals detained abroad to determine if there is credible information that they are being detained unlawfully or wrongfully, based on criteria which may include whether—
(1)
United States officials receive or possess credible information indicating innocence of the detained individual;
(2)
the individual is being detained solely or substantially because he or she is a United States national;
(3)
the individual is being detained solely or substantially to influence United States Government policy or to secure economic or political concessions from the United States Government;
(4)
the detention appears to be because the individual sought to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote freedom of the press, freedom of religion, or the right to peacefully assemble;
(5)
the individual is being detained in violation of the laws of the detaining country;
(6)
independent nongovernmental organizations or journalists have raised legitimate questions about the innocence of the detained individual;
(7)
the United States mission in the country where the individual is being detained has received credible reports that the detention is a pretext for an illegitimate purpose;
(8)
the individual is detained in a country where the Department of State has determined in its annual human rights reports that the judicial system is not independent or impartial, is susceptible to corruption, or is incapable of rendering just verdicts;
(9)
the individual is being detained in inhumane conditions;
(10)
due process of law has been sufficiently impaired so as to render the detention arbitrary; and
(11)
United States diplomatic engagement is likely necessary to secure the release of the detained individual.
(b) Referrals to the Special Envoy

Upon a determination by the Secretary of State, based on the totality of the circumstances, that there is credible information that the detention of a United States national abroad is unlawful or wrongful, and regardless of whether the detention is by a foreign government or a nongovernmental actor, the Secretary shall transfer responsibility for such case from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State to the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs created pursuant to section 1741a of this title.

(c) Report
(1) Annual report
(A) In general

The Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an annual report with respect to United States nationals for whom the Secretary determines there is credible information of unlawful or wrongful detention abroad.

(B) Form

The report required under this paragraph shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex if necessary.

(2) CompositionThe report required under paragraph (1) shall include current estimates of the number of individuals so detained, as well as relevant information about particular cases, such as—
(A)
the name of the individual, unless the provision of such information is inconsistent with section 552a of title 5 (commonly known as the “Privacy Act of 1974”);
(B)
basic facts about the case;
(C)
a summary of the information that such individual may be detained unlawfully or wrongfully;
(D)
a description of specific efforts, legal and diplomatic, taken on behalf of the individual since the last reporting period, including a description of accomplishments and setbacks; and
(E)
a description of intended next steps.
(d) Resource guidance
(1) Establishment

Not later than 180 days after December 27, 2020, and after consulting with relevant organizations that advocate on behalf of United States nationals detained abroad and the Family Engagement Coordinator established pursuant to section 1741b(c)(2) of this title, the Secretary of State shall provide resource guidance in writing for government officials and families of unjustly or wrongfully detained individuals.

(2) ContentThe resource guidance required under paragraph (1) should include—
(A)
information to help families understand United States policy concerning the release of United States nationals unlawfully or wrongfully held abroad;
(B)
contact information for officials in the Department of State or other government agencies suited to answer family questions;
(C)
relevant information about options available to help families obtain the release of unjustly or wrongfully detained individuals, such as guidance on how families may engage with United States diplomatic and consular channels to ensure prompt and regular access for the detained individual to legal counsel, family members, humane treatment, and other services;
(D)
guidance on submitting public or private letters from members of Congress or other individuals who may be influential in securing the release of an individual; and
(E)
appropriate points of contacts, such as legal resources and counseling services, who have a record of assisting victims’ families.
Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Short Title

Pub. L. 116–260, div. FF, title III, § 301, Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 3091, provided that:

“This subtitle [subtitle A (§§ 301–308) of title III of div. FF of Pub. L. 116–260, enacting this subchapter] may be cited as the ‘Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act’.”

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