On October 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published two final rules in the Federal Register, “Controls on Exports and Reexports of Water Cannon Systems” (“Water Cannon Controls”) and “Amendment to Licensing Policy for Items Controlled for Crime Control Reasons,” (“Licensing Policy Amendment”) meant to promote the respect of human rights around the world.  Both rules became effective immediately.

The Water Cannon Controls require a license for the export and reexport of water cannon systems intended for riot or crowd control, parts and components specially designed therefor and related software and technology to all countries designated with an “X” for crime control on Column 1 of the Commerce Country Chart, Supplement No. 1 to Part 738 of the EAR.   This includes most countries worldwide, other than NATO member countries and certain other military allies.  The amendment is intended to “enable the Government to more effectively control exports of water cannons to the Hong Kong Police Force, consistent with a 2019 Congressional mandate to prohibit the licensing of such transactions.”

The Licensing Policy Amendment amends section 742.7 of the EAR in two ways.  One, specifying in a new subparagraph 742.7 (b)(1) that BIS generally will consider favorably, on a case-by-case basis, license applications for a CC-controlled item “unless there is civil disorder in the country or region of destination or if BIS assesses that there is a risk that the items will be used in a violation or abuse of human rights”.  Two, stating in a new 742.7 (b)(2) that BIS will also consider these same issues when reviewing items controlled for reasons other than CC, with the exception of items controlled only for short supply.