Schiff Initiatives Promoting Human Rights, Press Freedoms, Civil Liberties Pass in National Defense Funding Legislation
Today, six key amendments championed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, passed the House as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
“We have a responsibility to live up to America’s highest ideals by both protecting our national security and by ensuring that we are living up to our commitments and leadership on human rights and freedoms everywhere,” said Schiff. “Nowhere is that need more acute than in our nation’s foreign policy and defense priorities, and it is critical we keep those ideals front and center – from standing up against international human rights violations, to protecting civil liberties, to strengthening government transparency. I’m glad these amendments were taken up in this year’s NDAA negotiations and look forward to them becoming law and fighting for their inclusion during conference.”
The amendments authored by Schiff include:
- Holding accountable foreign nations that commit extrajudicial killings and other gross violations of human rights against journalists. An amendment based on Schiff’s Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act of 2021 would prohibit U.S. foreign assistance to government entities and levy targeted sanctions against individuals that perpetrate gross human rights violations against journalists, and would require the Department of State to document incidents of online harassment and electronic surveillance of journalists in its annual Human Rights Reports.
- Honoring the “Lost 74” of the USS Frank E. Evans on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to authorize that the names of the Evans’ 74 crew members, who tragically lost their lives during a training exercise in the South China Sea on June 3, 1969, are included on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. This has been a long-standing Schiff priority.
- Preserving open space in the Los Angeles Basin. This amendment adds more than 191,000 acres of the Rim of the Valley Corridor to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), something that Rep. Schiff has championed for decades. It is based on the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, which passed in February.
- Demanding Azerbaijan immediately and unconditionally release Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians. This amendment calls on Azerbaijan to release all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians currently detained in the aftermath of the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh — also known as Artsakh — and urges the Biden administration to engage with Azerbaijani authorities on all levels to facilitate their release, including through the OSCE Minsk Group process.
- Protecting Americans’ civil liberties by preventing the U.S. military from being used inappropriately in domestic law enforcement functions. Originally introduced after the previous administration pre-positioned active duty U.S. military units to respond to national protests against police brutality, this amendment strengthens the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 — which prohibits the Armed Forces from enforcing U.S. laws without authorization — by excluding any information or other evidence unlawfully collected by or with the assistance of the military from being used during legal proceedings.
- Making all public military commission proceedings available online. This amendment authorizes military judges to make any military commission proceeding that is open to the public in-person also available to the public remotely through the internet, including at Guantanamo Bay.