WASHINGTON: On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that introduces additional punitive measures against foreign countries that wrongfully imprisoned Americans. The rule would also apply to hostage-taking incidents in which the US has a national interest.
The US president issued an executive order stating that hostage-taking and the illegal detention of US citizens abroad “constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” and that “I hereby declare a national emergency to address this threat.”
Those who engage in such behaviour, according to him, “threaten the integrity of the international political system and the safety of United States citizens and other persons abroad.”
The decision permits US government agencies to attempt to secure the release of jailed Americans by imposing financial sanctions and travel bans on both state and non-state actors.
The new rule mandates that the US State Department release a thorough travel advisory following a high-profile detention and establishes a new “D category” of advisory for nations where there is a danger of Americans being wrongfully detained by foreign governments.
This would apply to China, which the State Department has classified as Level 3 at the moment, as well as to the five other nations it has classified as Level 4 — do not visit — which are North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Burma, and Russia.
This directive “applies to any hostage-taking incidents, whether suspected or verified, in which a US citizen is kidnapped or detained outside of the United States, as well as to other hostage-taking incidents occurring anywhere in the world.”overseas in which the United States has a national interest,” according to a text released by the White House. It does not, however, apply if a foreign authority admits to holding a citizen of the United States.
Additionally, the order instructs agencies to communicate intelligence and information to the relatives of hostage-takers and detainees. It will be the US Secretary of State who exercises this power.