For Immediate Release: October 4, 2011
Washington, DC — Human Rights First applauds the U.S. Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Robert Ford to be U.S. Ambassador to Syria. The group said Ford’s leadership on human rights is a model for American ambassadors everywhere.
“Many U.S. Senators initially opposed sending any ambassador to Syria as a way to sanction Syria for, among other violations, its horrible human rights record,” said Human Rights First’s Quinn O’Keefe. “Robert Ford changed their minds by proving what an American ambassador can do in a country as repressive as Syria where U.S. policy options are limited.”
According to O’Keefe, Ambassador Ford has openly criticized the Syrian government’s lethal crackdown on peaceful protestors and demonstrated solidarity with the human rights movement by visiting towns where the violence has been severe. He has shined a spotlight on human rights defenders who put their lives and livelihoods at risk to advance the rights and freedoms protected by the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
“By standing in solidarity with the Syrian human rights movement, Ford has embodied the United States’ commitment to human rights. His method has proven effective and should be followed wherever those fighting for human rights and democracy are at risk, including traditional U.S. allies like Bahrain,” concluded O’Keefe. “This can be more systematically achieved through the U.S. government’s adoption of public guidelines on how its diplomatic missions will consistently engage with human rights defenders the world over.”