In First Joint Request, Chair Grijalva, Ranking Member Bishop Seek GAO Report on Potential Human Rights Violations by International Anti-Poaching Units

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-Utah) today sent a joint letter requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of whether federal funding of anti-poaching efforts has supported human rights abuses. The request comes in the wake of reports that anti-poaching and anti-wildlife organizations have allegedly engaged in severe human rights abuses.

The full letter is available at http://bit.ly/2Lox0TD

As the lawmakers point out, “Among the victims of these alleged abuses are vulnerable indigenous people living near protected areas. Despite the importance of protecting wildlife and preventing species extinction, the United States must not be party to violations of basic human rights.”

They ask GAO to review six related issues:

  • What federal funds support partner organizations that engage in or support efforts involving human rights abuses?
  • To what extent has federal funding for partner organizations supported activities where the reported alleged incidents occurred?
  • What protections, guidelines, or controls are in place to prevent partner organizations from engaging in or supporting efforts involving human rights abuses?
  • To what extent are federal agencies monitoring the activities of partner organizations to ensure compliance with such protections, guidelines, or controls?
  • What enforcement mechanisms are available to the U.S. government if a determination is made that a partner organization is engaging in or supporting improper activities, including human rights abuses?
  • What limitations, if any, are placed on the recipients of federal funds to combat illicit wildlife trafficking?

From fiscal year 2014 through fiscal year 2017, Congress directed that at least $271 million be made available to combat wildlife trafficking, according to a 2017 GAO report titled Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Agencies are Taking Action to Reduce Demand but Could Improve Collaboration in Southeast Asia.

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