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The Charity and Security Network monitors U.S. and foreign government activities and a wide range of news sources to identify developments in national security policy that impact civil society and nonprofit organizations. We collect and disseminate relevant information on our website, via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and through our biweekly email newsletter, which contains links to a variety of news articles. To read the most recent issues of our email newsletter or to subscribe, click here

Our staff also creates news pieces on events and developments of particular interest to our members that are not covered in other news outlets. Those stories can be found below, in revese chronological order. 

InterAction Makes Recommendations to Congress on Protecting Humanity in War

Date: 
November 7, 2017
Author: 

International Humanitarian Law is supposed to protect civilians during armed conflict. However, in recent and ongoing wars, civilians have been injured or killed as a result of indiscriminate, foreseeable and preventable actions. More than 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes, civilian deaths from explosive weapons have increased by 92 percent since 2011, and there have been more than 5,000 civilian deaths since March 2015 in the Yemen conflict.

In a move to protect civilians from actions in war resulting from U.S. military operations and security partnerships, InterAction, an alliance organization of nongovernmental organizations, particularly humanitarian aid and development groups, has launched recommendations for Congress.

Charity & Security Network Submits Comments on Saudi Arabia’s Treatment of NPOs for FATF Evaluation

Date: 
November 7, 2017
Author: 

The Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Recommendation 8 (R8) on Nonprofit Organizations (NPOs) is among 40 standards it uses to evaluate country anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing programs. FATF is now conducting an evaluation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with a report due in the summer of 2018.  Under FATF procedures the June 2016 revised R8, which requires countries to apply a risk-based, proportionate approach to anti-terrorist financing regulation of NPOs, will be used to measure Saudi Arabia’s compliance. Because Saudi Arabia is a closed country where civil society rights are under harsh attack, it is not likely the R8 standard can be met. On October 31, 2017 the Charity & Security Network submitted comments to FATF, based on research of public records, that argue Saudi Arabia is using counterterrorism laws to target domestic dissent and “expressive organizations” in a manner inconsistent with FATF standards and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. C&SN’s submission is available here. 

House Financial Services Committee Approves Bank “Customer Protection” Bill

Date: 
November 6, 2017

A bill (HR 2706) intended to address concerns about federal bank regulators pressuring banks to limit or drop customers passed the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 12, 2107 on a 59-1 vote. Arising from a dispute over the controversial “Operation Choke Point”  during the Obama administration, the bill would require regulators to have a “valid” reason to tell banks to drop a customer or class of customers, and require customers be given notice of the reasons. If passed, the bill could impact nonprofit organizations (NPOs) that need financial services for international programs by allowing derisking without notice or the requirement of a “valid” reason when based on vaguely worded “national security” considerations.

Congressional Effort to Exclude IRW from USG Funding Defeated

Date: 
September 13, 2017

A Congressional budget amendment that would have de-funded a large UK-based humanitarian aid organization was successfully fought back earlier this week.

The amendment, which was proposed by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) as part of the Department of State’s foreign operations appropriations, would have cut all US government funding to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). A grassroots effort by Islamic Relief USA, InterAction, Charity & Security Network and other organizations sent emails to various Congressional staff members working on the appropriations bill. As the bill went to a vote Monday evening, the amendment was not offered and will not be a part of this funding measure. 

A "Dear Colleague" letter drafted by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) in an effort to oppose the amendment, gathered more than 50 signatures from nonprofit organizations in less than 24 hours, according to Ellison's office. The letter urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against the amendment, asserting that IRW was singled out for its religious affiliation. 

Controversial "Operation Choke Point" Program Has Ended

Date: 
August 21, 2017

Updated August 23, 2017

In an August 16, 2017 letter to Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that its controversial program dubbed "Operation Choke Point" has officially ended. In the letter, DOJ also repudiated the program, which it described as a "misguided initiative." Significantly, the letter states that DOJ "will not discourage the provision of financial services to lawful industries." 

Operation Choke Point was established during the Obama administration to "choke" payday lenders, gun dealers and other business sectors by forcing banks to end relationships with clients deemed "high-risk," a term also used to describe charities in the Bank Examiners Manual. According to the letter to Congress, under the program, a series of subpoenas were issued in 2013, accompanied by a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guidance document that listed a number of "elevated risk" merchants. An October 19, 2015, article in American Banker documented the impact on money service businesses and correspondent banks, thereby contributing to the global "de-risking" crisis

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