Support for FY22 NDAA Amendment increasing Human Rights Oversight
Increasing oversight for potential recipients of U.S. support to combat terrorism “will help ensure that U.S. funds do not contribute to human rights violations, and that U.S. partners in combating terrorism overseas are not themselves harming the local populations they are meant to protect.”
We join other peace and human rights organizations in asking that Representative Jacobs’ amendment be prioritized in the floor vote of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2022. It is vital that we hold ourselves and our partners accountable for human rights abuses and work to prevent such abuses wherever possible.
The Honorable James McGovern
Chairman, Committee on Rules
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman McGovern,
As organizations focused on a range of international peace and security, civilian protection, and human rights issues, we write today to urge that Representative Jacobs’ (CA-53) amendment #563 to require human rights vetting of potential recipients of U.S. support to combat terrorism under 10 U.S.C. §127e be prioritized for a floor vote under the rule providing for consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (H.R. 4350). This amendment will help ensure that U.S. funds do not contribute to human rights violations, and that U.S. partners in combating terrorism overseas are not themselves harming the local populations they are meant to protect.
The provision would amend 10 U.S.C. §127e, which permits the Secretary of Defense to expend up to $100 million to provide support to “foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals” who facilitate or support authorized U.S. special operations forces to combat terrorism. According to reporting by Politico in 2018, this authority has been used to conduct operations in Somalia, Libya, Kenya, Tunisia, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- all of which have had serious concerns raised in the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for subsequent years.
While U.S. law prohibits the provision of security assistance to recipients that have been found to have committed gross violations of human rights, concerning loopholes remain. In particular, many Department of Defense Title 10 authorities, including Section 127e operations, do not currently require pre-vetting of foreign recipients of assistance and equipment for partnered counterterrorism operations. This provision would close this significant loophole and strengthen the U.S. commitment to human rights by increasing vetting measures to ensure that recipients of U.S. support have not committed human rights violations or violations of international humanitarian law, and that if credible reports of violations are found, ongoing assistance is halted. Given the recent string of military coup d'etats led by U.S. security assistance recipients in countries such as Mali, Guinea, Egypt, Haiti, and Burma, this provision would help prevent civilian harm, ensure partner compliance with human rights, and improve intended long-term outcomes toward good governance, rule of law, peace and human rights promotion.
We urge that Rep. Jacobs’ amendment #563, cosponsored by Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), be prioritized for a floor vote under the rule providing for consideration of H.R. 4350, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.