April 16, 2021

Young, Cotton, Cruz, and Scott Introduce Bill Sanctioning Foreign Government Officials Who Hold Americans Hostage

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) reintroduced the Global Hostage Act, a bill that would require the president to impose sanctions on foreign government officials responsible for taking Americans hostage. It would also bar those officials and their families from receiving U.S. visas. 


“The Global Hostage Act will send a message to the world that anyone who takes an American hostage will pay a severe price for their actions. As President Reagan famously proclaimed to hostage takers in 1985, ‘America does not make concessions to terrorists, to do so would only invite more terrorism.’ This bill is about making sure that promise remains true today and in the future,” said Senator Young.


“If you take an American hostage – it won’t only be the hostage that will suffer. America must never accept extortion by hostage-taking as the cost of doing business. It warrants severe consequences, and that’s what this bill delivers,” said Senator Cotton. 


Specifically, the bill:


  • Requires that the executive branch impose mandatory sanctions on foreign government officials and other foreign persons responsible for taking U.S. hostages.


  • Denies U.S. visas to sanctioned hostage-takers and their family members.


  • Creates a mechanism for Congress to require that the executive branch review specific foreign government officials for hostage-taking sanctions eligibility.


  • States that it is U.S. policy to not pay ransoms to secure the release of U.S. citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence who are taken hostage abroad.


  • Expresses a Sense of Congress that the United States must take all measures to prevent foreign governments or non-state actors from engaging in hostage-taking, including prosecuting and extraditing those responsible and encouraging allies and partners to do the same.


 The bill text is available here.