For Immediate Release: April 15, 2013
Washington, DC – As U.S. National Security Advisory Tom Donilon arrives in Moscow today, Human Rights First urges him to make clear that respect for human rights is a central part of the United States’ relationship with Russian and that the U.S. will not overlook blatant violations that are out of step with international norms. Donilon’s visit comes amid finger-pointing between Russia and the United States over human rights. On Friday, the Obama Administration named 18 Russians involved in human rights abuses who will be denied entry to the United States. This weekend, Russia banned 18 Americans from Russia in retaliation, including two who have been implicated in U.S. torture policies, David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, and John Yoo, a lawyer who wrote several memos justifying torture.
“Human rights should not be diluted into a game of tit for tat. The United States must make clear to that it is serious about the rampant problem of impunity for Russian human rights violators, including by naming some of the many top level individuals not listed in this past Friday’s announcement,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “Beyond banning bad guys from entry into the United States, the Obama Administration has a responsibility to support independent human rights defenders in Russia currently facing restrictive new laws that threaten their ability to continue. And the Pentagon should cut ties with companies like Russian-state arms supplier Rosoboronexport, so long as they continue to provide Bashar al Assad with weapons and materials necessary to fuel the ongoing Syrian atrocities. Mr. Donilon should raise these issues as he pursues the reset of relations with Russia. Human rights cannot be left out of that recalibration.”
For more information or to speak with Hicks, contact Brenda Bowser Soder at BowserSoderB@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.