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[IWS] CRS: "LEAHY LAW" HUMAN RIGHTS PROVISIONS AND SECURITY ASSISTANCE: ISSUE OVERVIEW [29 January 2014]

IWS Documented News Service

_______________________________

Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

________________________________________________________________________

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

“Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview

Nina M. Serafino, Coordinator, Specialist in International Security Affairs

June S. Beittel, Analyst in Latin American Affairs

Lauren Ploch Blanchard, Specialist in African Affairs

Liana Rosen, Analyst in International Crime and Narcotics

January 29, 2014

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R43361.pdf

[full-text, 28 pages]

 

Summary

Congressional interest in the laws and processes involved in conditioning U.S. assistance to

foreign security forces on human rights grounds has grown in recent years, especially as U.S.

Administrations have increased emphasis on expanding U.S. partnerships and building

partnership capacity with foreign military and other security forces. Congress has played an

especially prominent role in initiating, amending, supporting with resources, and overseeing

implementation of long-standing laws on human rights provisions affecting U.S. security

assistance.

 

First sponsored in the late 1990s by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the “Leahy laws” (sometimes

referred to as the “Leahy amendments”) are currently manifest in two places. One is Section

620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, which prohibits the furnishing

of assistance authorized by the FAA and the Arms Export Control Act to any foreign security

force unit where there is credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of

human rights. The second is a recurring provision in annual defense appropriations, newly

expanded by the FY2014 Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill as contained in the

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76), to align its scope with that of the FAA

provision. (Prior DOD appropriations measures had applied the prohibition to support for any

training program, as defined by DOD, but not to other forms of DOD assistance.) As they

currently stand, the FAA and DOD provisions are similar but not identical. Over the years, they

have been subject to changes to more closely align their language, most recently with the

expansion of scope enacted in the FY2014 DOD appropriations law. Nevertheless, some

differences remain.

 

Implementation of Leahy vetting involves a complex process in the State Department and U.S.

embassies overseas that determines which foreign security individuals and units are eligible to

receive U.S. assistance or training. Beginning in 2010, the State Department has utilized a

computerized system called the International Vetting and Security Tracking (INVEST) system,

which has facilitated a major increase in the number of individuals and units vetted (some

160,000 in FY2012). Congress supports Leahy vetting operations through a directed allocation of

funds in State Department appropriations.

 

The Leahy laws touch upon many issues of interest to Congress. These range from current vetting

practices and implementation (involving human rights standards, relations and policy objectives

with specific countries, remediation mechanisms, and inter-office and inter-agency coordination,

among other issues), to legislative efforts to increase alignment between the Foreign Assistance

Act and DOD restrictions, to levels and forms of resources dedicated to conduct vetting. More

broadly, overarching policy questions persist about the utility and desirability of applying the

Leahy laws, and whether there is sometimes a conflict between promoting respect for human

rights and furthering other national interests.

 

Contents

Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 1

Legislative Background ................................................................................................................... 3

Comparison of Current Laws .................................................................................................... 5

Leahy Vetting in Practice ................................................................................................................. 7

The Vetting Process ................................................................................................................... 9

U.S. Embassy Procedures .................................................................................................... 9

Headquarters Level ........................................................................................................... 10

Additional Review and Conclusion ................................................................................... 10

Vetting Results and Their Use ................................................................................................. 12

Vetting Personnel ..................................................................................................................... 12

Vetting Funding ....................................................................................................................... 13

Vetting System Improvement Initiatives ................................................................................. 14

Issues for Congress ........................................................................................................................ 16

Should the FAA and DOD Leahy Laws Be Made Consistent? ............................................... 16

Should the FAA and DOD Remediation Standards Be the Same? .................................... 17

Should Other Differences Be Aligned? ............................................................................. 19

What Level of Resources Are Adequate to Conduct Vetting? ................................................. 19

Funding ............................................................................................................................. 19

Technology ........................................................................................................................ 20

Training and Oversight ...................................................................................................... 20

Should Implementation Practices and Procedures Be Standardized? ...................................... 21

What Challenges May the Expanded DOD Scope Present? .................................................... 22

Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 24

 

Figures

Figure 1. Leahy Vetting Process for Training ................................................................................ 11

 

Tables

Table 1. Key Differences in FAA and DOD Leahy Provisions ........................................................ 6

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 25

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 




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