Washington Must Restrict Retired Military Officers’ Work for Governments That Abuse Human Rights

WASHINGTON – Recent reports in the Washington Post about retired senior U.S. military personnel consulting with and working for repressive U.S. military allies – including the Saudi Arabian government, even after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi – are deeply concerning.

The United States must stand for the respect of human rights both at home and abroad. To that end, Human Rights First urges the U.S. government to uphold the law when it comes to the approval of working relationships for retired senior American military leaders.

“Americans should have the confidence that their former public servants are not applying their skills and expertise in support of governments that commit shocking human rights abuses,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First. “The U.S. government should use rules already on the books to stop American veterans from providing support to authoritarian regimes, like Saudi Arabia, that degrade human rights. The government needs to make clear that some things are simply not for sale.”

Human Rights First recommends the U.S. government strictly enforce its existing requirement that retired U.S. military personnel seek Defense and State Department approval before consulting or working for foreign militaries, and these departments should deny veterans’ requests to serve foreign governments that have committed gross violations of human rights, even if they are military allies.

Additionally, we urge Congress to pass a ban on former senior U.S. officials lobbying for foreign governments or foreign political parties.


Published on October 20, 2022


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