'Leahy Law' Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview [January 29, 2014]   [open pdf - 491KB]

"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. […] 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."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43361
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