Recognizing that Nelson Mandela and many members of the African National Congress (ANC) are currently on U.S. terrorism watch lists, Sen. John Kerry today introduced legislation in the Senate to grant the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, the authority to waive U.S. travel restrictions on former President Mandela and other members of the ANC. Kerry met with Mandela in South Africa in November 2007, and toured Robben Island, where Mandela was kept for eighteen of the twenty-seven years he spent imprisoned during the apartheid era.
Mandela and his fellow ANC members remain on the list for activities they conducted against South Africa's apartheid regime decades ago. U.S. diplomats, including Secretary Rice, have called on Congress to pass legislation to end this embarrassing impediment to improving U.S.-South Africa relations.
"Nelson Mandela is one of the world's strongest voices for human dignity and courage in the face of oppression. The idea that he'd be on our government's terror watch list is deplorable. No bureaucratic snafu can excuse this international embarrassment, and we need to fix this policy now," said Kerry.
Kerry's proposed reform mirrors the bipartisan House Foreign Affairs Committee bill, sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. John Conyers, Chairman of House Judiciary, and Rep. Christopher Smith.
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