Press Coverage: Anti-Terror Laws Impede Peacebuilding and Aid Efforts

September 19, 2011

Eddie Walsh, the Pentagon Correspondent for The Diplomat, writes that U.S. law “has affected U.S. non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) ability to secure grants and funding for their peace-building and humanitarian aid efforts," and that there is growing Congressional support to reform these laws. Read more…
Francesca Spinelli, a correspondent of the French newspaper, Internazionale, writes  U.S. and UK anti-terror laws and policies are creating “a serious handicap” for aid groups responding to emergencies like the one in Somalia, and increase the danger posed to aid workers. Read more…

Two Reports Document Effects of Counterterrorism Efforts on Muslim Charities

September 14, 2011

Muslim charities and donors have come under increasing scrutiny since Sept. 11, 2011. The far-reaching effects of the counterterrorism efforts are documented in two new reports from Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Countering Religion or Terrorism: Selective Enforcement of Material Support Laws Against Muslim Charities explains how the laws have effectively criminalized charitable giving, peace-building efforts, and human rights advocacy.
Charitable Giving Among Muslim Americans: Ten Years After 9/11 describes the major shifts in the community’s giving practices after nearly a decade of Muslim charities being investigated, and the curbing of civil liberties of donors and charity officials.

New Report Exposes Network of Islamophobia

September 6, 2011

Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” exposes the seven groups that spent nearly $43 million over the last 10 years promoting Islamophobia. The August 2011 report by the Center for American Progress explains how their misinformation is spread through a network of media and grassroots organizers. One widely discredited expert, Steve Emerson, has been used by federal prosecutors in trials involving charities.

U.S. Announces New Policy to Allow Famine Aid in Somalia

August 5, 2011

On Aug. 2, the State Department announced that U.S. humanitarian groups that provide famine aid to civilians living in areas of Somalia controlled by al-Shabab, will not be prosecuted for violating U.S. law if they act in good faith to reach victims of the famine.  Read more….

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Aug. 3 press release regarding humanitarian relief in Somalia:

“The current law is so broad as to be unworkable.  Aid workers trying to provide relief to starving Somalis fear they could be prosecuted if some of it were to end up in the hands of al-Shabab…The Secretary of State has the power to grant exemptions where the purpose is not to engage in terrorist activity.  She should use that authority immediately to ensure aid can reach as many Somalis as possible.”

Review of Legislative History Shows Treasury's Position on Frozen Charitable Funds Without Basis

June 15, 2011
Sahar Aziz, Senior Legal Advisor to the Charity and Security Network

Representatives of the U.S. nonprofit sector have been seeking release of frozen charitable funds for charitable purposes since 2006 when 20 organizations sent a letter to the Department of Treasury asking for release of the funds for charitable purposes. Specific procedures based on current Treasury regulations were proposed. However, Treasury rejected the request, and continues to resist releasing the funds, based on a claim that Congress intended the funds to be held in case victims of terrorism file suit against the shut down charities. Since that has only happened in one case, the rest of the funds remain frozen indefinitely. The Charity and Security Network undertook research of the Congressional Record and the law and found no evidence to support Treasury's position. This memo describes the outcome of that research in detail.

Index Gauges Quality of Humanitarian Assistance of Relief and Recovery Efforts

June 15, 2011

The Humanitarian Response Index (HRI) aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of humanitarian aid for at-risk populations by identifying and promoting best practices for donor governments and civil society. Produced by DARA, the latest HRI says anti-terrorism measures like the “material support” prohibition make it extremely difficult for aid agencies to meet the needs of at-risk civilians.

Examples: Impacts of the Material Support Prohibition on Peacebuilding

June 13, 2011

For many years, U.S. organizations have paved the way for peace by helping to bring fighting factions together and providing alternatives to violence as a means of redressing grievances.   Unfortunately, the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) upheld the law defining prohibited “material support” of terrorism to include conflict prevention and resolution activities aimed at getting terrorist groups to lay down their arms. Without a correction, opportunities to end violence will be lost.

Database Tracks Major Incidents of Violence Toward Aid Workers

May 11, 2011

The Aid Worker Security Database (AWSD) is a global compilation of major incidents of violence against aid workers from 1997 through the present. It is a project of Humanitarian Outcomes.  

Around the world, aid workers providing humanitarian assistance are at risk due to real or perceived association with military or foreign policy agendas. To curb this, it is imperative that aid workers be able to maintain their neutrality and impartiality from government interference when conducting their operations. Learn more….

Publication of Unindicted Co-conspirator List in Holy Land Case Violated Due Process Rights, Court Rules

April 22, 2011
Since 2004 the criminal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and its leaders for material support of terrorism has been, and continues to be, a long running legal battle. One unusual twist has been a May 29, 2007 filing by the prosecution that listed 246 individuals and entities as "Un-indicted Co-conspirators and/or Joint Venturers." In a break with DOJ policies, the list was not sealed and the names, which included most major U.S. Muslim organizations, were made public. Both the trial court in Dallas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the release violated due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.

A Comparison of Due Process Rights in Terrorist Designation Processes to the Charity and Security Network’s Model

December 30, 2010

The process used by the United States government to “designate,” or list, charitable organizations as supporters of terrorism is controversial, and three federal courts have found key elements of these procedures to be constitutionally deficient.[i] In addition, the U.S. has not implemented due process reforms consistent with the December 2009 United Nations (UN) Resolution 1904, which it supported.

The Charity and Security Network has developed model rules to protect the due process rights of U.S. charities to remedy the constitutional problems, make U.S. practice consistent with international standards and protect the assets of charities for the beneficiaries in need. These model rules can be found here.