Merkley Applauds Signing of Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, Urges Strong Enforcement of Sanctions Provisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after President Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act into law, strengthening the United States’ commitment to investigating and responding to the Chinese government’s human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims within China. Merkley is a cosponsor of the legislation, and, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he successfully amended the bill to strengthen it with provisions for sanctions against Chinese leaders responsible for these human rights violations.

“The escalating surveillance, imprisonment, torture, and forced ‘re-education camps’ that China’s Uyghur Muslims have been subjected to are appalling human rights violations, depriving millions of people of their liberty in an effort to strip an entire community of their culture and their past. The United States cannot remain silent in the face of these atrocious and horrifying abuses. As millions of Americans fight for racial justice here at home, we must also stand strong as a champion of human rights abroad. With the passage and signing of this legislation, the U.S. is making a powerful statement against these violations, and I urge the Trump administration and Secretary Pompeo to make a swift determination on further sanctions.”

The initial versions of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act did not include sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for these abuses, so Merkley wrote a sanctions provision to require the Secretary of State to determine whether the individuals responsible for these human rights violations meet the criteria for sanctions. Merkley’s provision, which requires sanctions on the assets and visas of Chinese officials responsible for abuses against Uyghurs, was adopted by the Foreign Relations Committee and paved the way for strong sanctions in the final version of the bill signed by President Trump.

Merkley is also a co-lead of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was introduced in March 2020.