House Passes Pallone Amendment to Protect Global Human Rights, Hold Billion Dollar Defense Program Accountable
Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.’s (NJ-06) amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the U.S. House of Representatives today. The amendment would help advance human rights around the world. It requires the Department of Defense to explicitly report any foreign military units that have received financial assistance from the United States through security cooperation programs and have committed gross human rights violations before or during their participation in the programs. The report will also include recommendations to improve human rights training and additional measures that can be adopted to prevent human rights violations in the future. Pallone spoke in favor of the amendment on the House Floor.
“The United States has long stood as a beacon for the rights of every person, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality. We must continue to lead by example and ensure that American tax dollars do not contradict our values at home or abroad,” Congressman Pallone said. “This amendment sends a clear signal that the United States takes seriously its democratic norms and commitment to peace by ensuring oversight of our security assistance. This amendment is especially important since Azerbaijan continues to threaten Armenia’s safety and sovereignty. The United States should not be aiding and abetting reckless, autocratic states with appalling human rights records for any reason.”
This amendment is an important step in creating oversight for the Defense Department’s Section 333 Building Partner Capacity Program that has sent enormous sums of money to human rights abusing regimes and dictators, including that of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, which has numerous documented human rights violations. The Department has spent almost four billion dollars over the last four years on Section 333. Even though the State Department has singled out Azerbaijani border units for committing human rights violations, Azerbaijani border forces received over $100 million in security assistance in fiscal years 2018 and 2019 through the program.