WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, were joined by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) in introducing bipartisan legislation to bolster support for families advocating for the release of their loved ones wrongfully or unlawfully detained abroad.
“With the resurgence of hostage diplomacy globally, it is vital that we provide families affected with the resources needed to advocate for their loved ones,” said Ranking Member Risch. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure every family feels supported and that we utilize every tool at our disposal to bring wrongfully-detained Americans home.”
“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing the Supporting Americans Wrongfully or Unlawfully Detained Abroad Act of 2023, crucial bipartisan legislation to ensure that families of unlawfully detained Americans are able to advocate for their loved ones’ freedom without personal financial burden,” said Chairman Menendez. “This bill is a critical show of support for families suffering from an unimaginable nightmare. We need to do everything possible to ensure that families of Americans wrongfully detained abroad are empowered advocate for the return of their loved ones. I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure this bill’s passage, as well as working to deter future hostage-taking.”
“Anytime an American is wrongfully detained abroad, every effort must be made to bring them home and reunite them with their families. From Amer Fakhoury to Andrew Brunson, I’ve worked on numerous cases and witnessed the anguish families experience around unjust detainment. This legislation addresses a key gap in current U.S. policy by helping families access travel assistance to advocate for the release of their loved ones,” said Senator Shaheen. “I will continue to stand by families of Americans held hostage or detained abroad and push every lever of the U.S. government to bring them home.”
“As a Senator and former U.S. ambassador, I’ve dealt with and seen far too many cases of Tennesseans and other American citizens wrongly or unlawfully detained abroad,” said Senator Hagerty. “That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill to better support and lessen the burdens of American families who are working with the U.S. government to bring home their loved ones in these heartbreaking cases.”
The Supporting Americans Wrongfully or Unlawfully Detained Abroad Act of 2023 authorizes the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department to cover the costs of travel to Washington, D.C. for family members of Americans who are wrongfully or unlawfully detained abroad. The legislation also provides that the Department make available mental health support for detainees and their families.
Text of the legislation can be found here.