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Utah Congressman Pushes Bill To Ban Federal Funding Of Conservation Groups That Violate Human Rights

Photo of Rob Bishop.
A new bill from Utah Congressman Rob Bishop would outlaw the U.S. government from funding conservation groups tied to human rights abuses.

Utah Congressman Rob Bishop is requesting immediate hearings on his bill to prohibit the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service from funding international conservation groups that support violations of human rights.

It comes after an explosive Buzzfeed News investigation earlier this year that found that millions of dollars the U.S. government has given to the World Wildlife Fund ended up going to anti-poaching groups who have been accused of torture and murder.

“There's no way that taxpayer funds should be going to entities that then contract out to groups that then abuse basic rights of any human being anywhere,” Bishop said. “That's just a misuse of taxpayer funds. And it's just morally wrong.”

Under the bill, organizations that receive federal funding must report all credible allegations of human rights violations by groups they distribute money to. It also requires those organizations stop funding groups that violate human rights. 

The legislation follows nearly eight months of investigation by the House Committee on Natural Resources. Bishop said he wants to push for more, like oversight hearings on how the Department of the Interior is tracking what conservation groups its money goes to, as well an audit of the Department to ensure it never again funds groups accused of human rights violations. 

“The only thing that worries us is that people tend to forget yesterday's news,” Bishop said. “And this is so significant with the kinds of abuse that is happening with money that taxpayers are giving to the federal government, that we cannot allow this to be forgotten.”

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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