United States of America

House of RepresentativesSenate

House of Representatives

Specialized body - Human rights

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
(January 2008)

About

Members

Number of members
All MembersBelow 45 years of age
Total80
Men50
Women30
Political affiliation of members
Majority parties
4
Opposition parties
4

Chairperson(s)

Chair 1
James P. McGovern
Chairperson: Sex
Male
Date of birth
20 Nov 1959
Political affiliation
Majority
Chair 2
Chris Smith
Chairperson: Sex
Male
Date of birth
04 Mar 1953
Political affiliation
Opposition

Chairperson

Chairperson: Sex
Male
Age: Chairperson is below 45 years of age
No

Committee functions

Committee functions
Mainstream human rights into the work of (other) parliamentary committees and of Parliament as a whole
Yes
Scrutinise all Bills for their compatibility with human rights
No
Scrutinise the Executive’s policy for compatibility with human rights
No
Obtain information from the Executive about the justification for actions or inaction which affect human rights
No
Scrutinise State compliance with existing UN human rights treaties
No
Initiate inquiries of its own choosing
No
Scrutinise proposed human rights treaties, and other international treaties with implications for human rights, and report to Parliament thereon, prior to ratification
No
Ascertain and review the Executive’s reasons for not acceding to or ratifying existing international human rights treaties
No
Scrutinise the Executive’s response to judgments of national, regional and international courts with implications for human rights
No
Monitor the adequacy of the existing national system for the protection of human rights
No
Review the allocation and expenditure of funds in the State budget to support measures to promote and protect human rights
No
Other important functions, please specify
The TLHRC was institutionalized as a full entity in 2008, borne out of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC), originally founded in 1983.

The Commission is charged with promoting, defending and advocating for international human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments. The Commission undertakes public education activities, provides expert human rights advice and encourages members of Congress to actively engage in human rights matters.

Committee powers

The Committee has the power to:
Propose amendments to legislation
No
Introduce bills into Parliament
No
Initiate parliamentary debates on its reports or on subjects of its choosing
Yes
Carry out inquiries
Yes
Hold oral evidence hearings
Yes
Compel witnesses to attend
No
Compel the production of documents and papers
No
Make recommendations to the Executive
No
Conduct visits, including visits abroad
Yes
Access places of detention without notice
No

Committee working methods

The Committee:
Adopts an annual or longer-term work plan
Yes
Publishes reports on its work on the parliamentary website
Yes
Systematically follows up its reports and recommendations
Yes
Reports regularly to Parliament on its activities
Yes
Number of specialised staff to service committee
3

Cooperation and coordination

The Committee regularly cooperates and coordinates (e.g. through sharing of reports; meetings; joint follow-up action) with:
Other parliamentary committees
Sometimes
Civil society organisations
Sometimes
National Human Rights Institution(s) Often called “Commissions” and/or “Ombudspersons” in the area of human rights
Sometimes
Academic institutions, including research institutes on human rights and the rule of law
Sometimes
The media
Often