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Bishop Seeks Hearings From Grijalva on Conservation Grants, Drops Bill to Prevent Taxpayer-funded Human Rights Violations

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 20, 2019 -

Today, Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah) sent a letter to Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) requesting immediate hearings on H.R. 5493. Introduced yesterday, the legislation seeks to enhance oversight mechanisms at the Department of the Interior by prohibiting the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from awarding international conservation grants to entities that fund or support gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. Earlier this year, an explosive Buzzfeed report revealed taxpayer-funded conservation grants distributed to wildlife organizations were aiding eco-guards and others who committed atrocious acts against indigenous people.

“It is my sincerest hope that you provide transparency to this issue with an oversight hearing followed by a legislative hearing on my bill to deter possibilities of future taxpayer-funded instances of torture, rape, and extrajudicial killings.”

A bipartisan Committee investigation into international conservation grants and associated human rights violations began earlier this year.  Documents reveal that World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was aware of such abuses dating back at least a decade.

“While international conservation grants play an important role in protecting wildlife, the United States cannot be party to violations of basic human rights. I am confident we both recognize gaps in the Department’s accountability of grants which necessitates a meaningful public discussion...” 

Read the full letter HERE.

Read bill text 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.  

December 16, 2019 –  Bishop expands probe on human rights abuses and sends letter to Wild Conservation Society (WCS) CEO.

December 19, 2019 – Bishop introduces H.R. 5493 to combat human rights abuses through conservation grants.

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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