A Mix-Up Over U.S. Military Aid to Nigeria to Hunt Boko Haram

Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:10am

When House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce recently suggested waiving a human rights law to provide more military aid to Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram, he quoted a Defense Department official as being critical of its requirements, reports Roll Call .  

But last week, a Pentagon spokesman, in response to a request from CQ Roll Call, said the official wasn’t criticizing the law at all — in fact, she was criticizing the human rights abuses that made it more difficult to find Nigerian military units fit for U.S. assistance.  

The California Republican is standing by his desire to waive the law, however, with a spokesman citing criticism of the law by Defense Department officials broadly.  

The law in question is known colloquially as the Leahy Law, after its author, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. It prevents U.S. aid to military units that are implicated in gross human rights abuses, like rape or torture. It has been in the spotlight more than usual since Boko Haram’s kidnapping of approximately 300 schoolgirls.