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Republicans Concerned About More Taxpayer-funded Human Rights Abuses

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16, 2019 -

Today, Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah), U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) requesting information on WCS’s awareness of human rights abuses potentially committed by  taxpayer-funded eco-guards.  Based upon WCS’s authority over eco-guards and the receipt of U.S. grants, Republicans continue to investigate whether taxpayer dollars were inadvertently used to support human rights abuses.

“The Committee began its bipartisan investigation after reports surfaced that WWF funded rangers who tortured, raped, and murdered indigenous and local people abroad… While allegations against WWF are very disturbing, a broader question exists about potential taxpayer-funded human rights violations. 

“On October 31, 2019, President Trump announced Cameroon would no longer be eligible to receive aid under the African Growth and Opportunity Act based on the country’s failure to address human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian security forces.  Since 2010, WCS has received more than $1,302,600 in USFWS grants related to law enforcement activities for projects in Cameroon alone... Therefore, we request information related to WCS’s awareness of the occurrence of human rights abuses, funding for eco-guards or law enforcement that committed human rights abuses, and policies addressing the rights of indigenous and local peoples.”

Read the letter HERE.

Investigation Timeline:

May 6, 2019 – Bishop and Grijalva send letter to GAO requesting review on federal funding of anti-poaching efforts that were in support of human rights abuses.

June 6, 2019 – Bishop and Grijalva request briefing from the Department of the Interior about international conservation grants with concerns about human rights abuses.

July 1, 2019 – Bishop and Grijalva expand probe on human rights abuses with letter to WWF CEO and President, Carter Roberts.

July 23, 2019 – Bishop and Grijalva continue probe on human rights abuses with letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Bernhardt.

September 17, 2019 – DOI sends letter to House Committee on Natural Resources detailing steps being taken to ensure taxpayer funded conservation grants are not associated with international human rights abuses.

October 23, 2019 – Republicans urge further scrutiny of conservation grants tied to human rights abuses in a letter sent to the Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

December 11, 2019 – Through a statement, World Wildlife Fund suspended its support for eco-guards in Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo upon discovering a death in the park.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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