The United States must stop selling weapons to foreign governments that have a record of violating human rights, a group of senators say.
Senator Bob Menendez and several of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate have introduced the Safeguarding Human Rights in Arms Exports Act of 2021, which they argue is meant to stop further arms sales to regimes that would use the weapons against innocent people.
“As foreign governments intentionally or inadvertently use U.S.-sold arms and defense services to perpetrate human rights abuses against innocent civilians, the SAFEGUARD Act would bolster Congress’ role in the review of proposed arms sales and exports to prevent the United States from contributing to or facilitating future human rights abuses,” the bill reads.
“The legislation lays out strategic reforms to the Arms Export Control Act to guarantee that protection and promotion of human rights is a mandatory primary consideration of the export of deadly weapons and defense services to foreign countries,” it states.
The sponsors of the bill said it is designed to “elevate the protection of human rights in the control and export of arms” as an official government policy.
Menendez said Washington has for a long time failed to honor its responsibilities in this regard.
He said Washington has the right to help strengthen its allies but it must be able to do so “without the blood of the innocent on our hands.”
The United States has over the past years come under fire for selling weapons to repressive regimes in the Middle East.
Under former President Donald Trump, Washington sold over $100 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which has been running a deadly war against its poverty-stricken neighbor, Yemen.
It has also signed huge arms deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.