Innocent Americans imprisoned overseas, as reported in "Jailed American's Drug Case Stokes Tension With Bolivia"
(World News, Aug. 1) and "Cuba's American Hostage"
(op-ed, Sept. 10), and the woefully inadequate response by the Obama administration, highlight the need for congressional initiative and oversight to address this serious issue.
I recently introduced the Justice for Imprisoned Americans Overseas Act or "Jacob's Law," named after Jacob Ostreicher who has been detained for more than 15 months in Bolivia. H.R. 6292 would deny entry to the U.S. any foreign government official who is violating the fundamental due process or human rights of an American imprisoned in their country. Immediate family members would also be denied a visa.
Until foreign dictators and corrupt officials know that wrongly imprisoning a U.S. citizen will negatively affect them and their families, Americans abroad increasingly will be seen as easy targets for this human-rights abuse.
Rep. Chris Smith
House Human Rights Subcommittee
A version of this article appeared September 20, 2012, on page A16 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Justice for Americans Held Overseas.
The original online version can be viewed by clicking here