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Home / Blog / Washington Week on Human Rights: July 21, 2014
July 21, 2014

Washington Week on Human Rights: July 21, 2014

Top News

CHILDREN AT THE BORDER On Friday, President Obama will meet with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to discuss the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and ways to address the crisis.  Meanwhile, as Congress debates the president’s request for $3.7 billion in supplemental funding to address the surge and rolls out their own legislative solutions to address it, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, including Human Rights First, are traveling to the Artesia Federal Holding Facility in New Mexico and to the temporary shelter for children established at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Human Rights First was on the border earlier this year and has issued a set of recommendations on how the administration should deal with families and children crossing the southern border.

UKRAINE Following the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane over Ukrainian territory controlled by pro-Russia separatists, the United States and leaders from across Europe are calling for new sanctions against Russia. Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry told Fox News Sunday that the United States is also considering an increase in military aid to Ukraine. Last week, ahead of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, the Obama Administration imposed new restrictions on the Russian state-controlled oil company OAO Rosneft and other Russian firms. The new sanctions are designed to increase pressure on Russia to help defuse the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

SECRETARY KERRY TO EGYPT Today, Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials about the violent conflict between Israel and Hamas. Over the weekend, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to working with international partners to restore the ceasefire reached in November 2012. Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council held an emergency closed-door meeting to discuss the crisis.

EXTREMISM IN EUROPE On Thursday, the Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on "Anti-Semitism, Racism and Discrimination in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Region." The hearing comes two days before Human Rights First is scheduled to release a new report titled “We’re not Nazis, but…The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care.” The report, based on research conducted on the ground in Hungary and Greece during this year’s election cycle, in which extreme far-right candidates from several U.S.-allied countries were elected to European Parliament, includes recommendations for how the OSCE and United States, among others, can work together to combat extremism.

DISABILITY TREATY On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 13, 2006. It was signed by the United States on June 30, 2009, but has not been ratified. In 2012, the Senate voted 61-38 against ratification of the treaty.

Quote of the Week

“The U.S. holds itself out as a model for protecting refugees and we lecture a lot of people on this, and our laws and our values are supposed to be consistent with that model by providing processes and safeguards to identify those who are at risk, particularly children. On this principle, there has long been bipartisan agreement as there should be. The idea that we would diminish at this point these safeguards and values in face of the current circumstances really doesn’t speak very well of our leaders or our true values.”

James W. Ziglar, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) under former President George W. Bush

We’re Reading

The Associated Press reported on the two overturned counts in the case of Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, the former assistant to Osama bin Laden. Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar noted that the ruling underscored the haphazard and legally-questionable nature of the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay. For more information, see here.

NBC News’s Suzanne Gamboa wrote a piece on the plight of girls crossing the U.S.-Mexican border as part of the unprecedented influx of families and children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America. For more information, see the transcript of Human Rights First’s recent press call featuring a diverse panel of experts, including former commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Services under President George W. Bush, Jim Ziglar.

In a piece for The Hill, Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord and Log Cabin Republicans’ Gregory T. Angelo highlight the International Human Rights Defense Act that was introduced in the House last week and make the case that protecting the human rights of LGBT people should not be a partisan issue.

Human Rights First’s Michael Quigley, in a piece for Defense One, argued that the United States must invest in counterterrorism partnerships that support human rights, rather than rely on military authorities granted in the 2001 war authorization, in order to combat the rise of terrorism and extremism overseas.

We’re Watching

The New York Times explores the situation for Central American migrants fleeing violence in Reynosa, Mexico.

On the Hill

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) will hold a hearing on "Anti-Semitism, Racism and Discrimination in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Region." The hearing will feature Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; OSCE Personal Representative on Combating Anti-Semitism Rabbi Andrew Baker; OSCE Personal Representative on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims Talip Kucukcan; and OSCE Personal Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination Alexey Avtonomov. 10AM, 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on "Terrorist March in Iraq: The U.S. Response." The hearing will feature testimony from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk. 10AM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on "The Rising Terrorist Threat and the Unfulfilled 9/11 Recommendation." 10AM, 311 Cannon House Office Building

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "The Struggle for Civil Society in Egypt." Charles Johnson Jr., director of international security and counterterrorism issues for the Government Accountability Office's International Affairs & Trade Team; Charles Dunne, director of Freedom House's Middle East and North Africa Programs; Sam LaHood, director of the International Republican Institute's Indonesia and Cambodia Program, former Egypt country director for the International Republican Institute; Patrick Butler, vice president for programs at the International Center for Journalists; and Lila Jaafar, senior program manager at the National Democratic Institute, will testify. 10AM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on "Iraq at a Crossroads: Options For U.S. Policy." Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk; Principal Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin, performing the duties of the principal deputy undersecretary for policy; James Jeffrey, visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero; and Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow in the Brookings Institute's Saban Center For Middle East Policy, will testify. 10AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Threat to the U.S. Homeland: Emerging Nexus Between Foreign Actors, Transnational Criminal Organizations, and Terrorist Organizations in Latin America." 2PM, 311 Cannon House Office Building

Around Town

Monday July 21, 2014

The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion on "The Enemy of my Enemy: An Uneasy Coalition and the Threat of ISIS. The event will feature Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Lukman Faily; Michael Singh, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Frederic Hof, senior fellow in the Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council; Bilal Saab, senior fellow in the Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council; and Barry Pavel, director of the Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. 10AM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

The Institute for Gulf Affairs will host a discussion on "ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), Iraq and the Gulf States." The event will feature Shireen Hunter, visiting professor at Georgetown University; Abbas Kadhim, senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies' Foreign Policy Institute; Kadhim Al-Waeli, Iraq military analyst; and Ali AlAhmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs. 10AM, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Choate Conference Room, Washington, D.C.

The Middle East Policy Council will hold its 77th Capitol Hill Conference on "Obama's Foreign Policy and the Future of the Middle East." The conference will feature Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution; Paul Pillar, nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University; Amin Tarzi, director of Middle East studies at Marine Corps University; Charles Freeman, chair of Projects International Inc.; and Thomas Mattair, executive director of the Middle East Policy Council. 2PM, 2168 Rayburn House Office Building

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion on "The Struggle for Public Space in Egypt." The discussion will feature Khaled Dawoud, spokesman for the Al-Dostour Party; and Mirrette Mabrouk, deputy director for regional programs in the Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council. 2PM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will host a discussion on "U.S. Policy Today for Africa Tomorrow." The event will feature former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda Johnnie Carson; former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria Princeton Lyman; and former U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Benin George Moose. 2PM, USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will hold a discussion on "Confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: Challenges and Options." The event will feature former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke, chairman of the Board of Governors of MEI; Steven Simon, senior fellow at MEI; Randa Slim, director of the Track II Dialogues Initiative at MEI; and Daniel Serwer, senior research professor of conflict management at Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, and scholar at MEI. 12PM, SAIS, Rome Building, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

The Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) will host a discussion on "Why are Thousands of Central American Children Risking their Lives to Reach the United States?: A View from Honduras." The event will feature Carlos Hernandez, executive secretary of the Association for a More Just Society (Asociacion para una Sociedad Mas Justa) Honduras; Omar Rivera of the Association for a More Just Society; Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America; Tani Adams, founder of the International Institute of Learning for Social Reconciliation, Guatemala; and Eric Olson, associate director of the Latin American Program at WWC. 3PM, WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C.

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