Key Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives have signed onto a bill that would bar the US government from funding international conservation groups that finance or support human rights violations.
The proposed law would require federal agencies to monitor international projects they support for abuses and, if any are discovered, to stop sending money. And every year, agencies would have to submit to Congress a report on human rights abuses that have occurred at US-funded projects.
The House Committee on Natural Resources has been looking into the issue in response to a 2019 BuzzFeed News investigation that found that the World Wide Fund for Nature, a beloved wildlife conservation charity and a longtime partner of the US government, had closely backed anti-poaching forces who tortured and killed people in national parks in Asia and Africa.
Villagers living near the parks had been whipped with belts, attacked with machetes, beaten unconscious with bamboo sticks, sexually assaulted, and shot, according to reports and documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. Rangers at WWF-supported parks committed several alleged unlawful killings.
In 2019, now-retired Republican member of Congress Rob Bishop of Utah, then the committee’s ranking member, proposed a law covering similar ground. Bishop’s bill stalled, but since then lawmakers in both parties have picked the issue back up.
This year’s bill has bipartisan support. Its sponsors are committee chair Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, and ranking member of Rep. Bruce Westerman, Republican of Arkansas. The rest of the committee will now