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May 19, 2014

Washington Week on Human Rights: May 19, 2014

Top News

POST-WAR NATIONAL SECURITY On Wednesday morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “Authorization for Use of Military Force After Iraq and Afghanistan.” The hearing will examine post-war national security measures and effective counterterrorism strategies. Among those testifying are officials from the Departments of Defense and State, as well as former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh. On Thursday, Koh and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent Charlie Savage will have a similar discussion during a public panel hosted by Human Rights First and moderated by the organization’s senior fellow in national security, Heather Hurlburt. Register to attend here.

DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION LEGISLATION Members of the House and Senate will turn their attention to the National Defense Authorization Act this week. In the coming days, the House will begin its floor debate on the measure with amendments related to targeted killing, war powers, the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other topics likely to be introduced. Mid-week, the Senate Armed Services Committee will begin its markup of the legislation.

TRAFFICKING The House will consider five trafficking focused bills this week en bloc. Among the proposed pieces of legislation are bills relating to victims’ rights, public protection, and bans on advertising for certain sex acts.

GREEK ELECTIONS In local elections on Sunday, 16 percent of Athens residents voted for a neo-Nazi candidate from the Golden Dawn Party. Though a leftist alliance is projected to win overall after a runoff election next Sunday, the Golden Dawn mayoral candidate – who sports swastika tattoos and once read from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on the floor of the Greek Parliament – is expected to more than double the party’s overall 6.9 percent showing in the 2012 parliamentary elections. Another candidate who has made antisemitic and homophobic statements won 11 percent of the vote.

IDAHO Saturday was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), the world’s largest LGBT solidarity action day that is observed in more than 120 countries. This Wednesday, The Honorable David Cicilline, U.S. Representative for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District; The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 27th Congressional District; and Angeline Jackson, Executive Director, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica will join Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino for an open reception in the Rayburn House Office Building. The event will mark IDAHO and discuss Human Rights First’s work to address challenges facing Jamaica’s LGBT community. For more information, click here.

Quote of the Week

We know that our work is not complete when countries enact laws targeting LGBT persons and their supporters. We know that our work is not complete when LGBT persons and their allies are harassed, arrested, and even killed simply because of who they are and who they love. The United States condemns these senseless acts of violence and discrimination. Human rights are universal, and LGBT persons and their allies must be free to exercise them without fear of intimidation or reprisal.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Statement Marking IDAHO

We’re Reading

Mother Jones reporter, Erika Eichelberger noted the importance of caution by the United States as it works with Nigerian authorities to help locate the more than 230 girls who were abducted by extremist group Boko Haram, emphasizing that the U.S. government must be sure it is not aiding human rights abusers.

Over the weekend, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen student democracy movement and his time in China during the uprising.

Ahead of this week’s NDAA debate in Congress, Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar wrote in Reuters about the myth of Guantanamo detainees who can’t be tried but are too dangerous to release, and what the U.S. government should do with them as the war in Afghanistan winds down. Read more here.

As Saturday marked International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, The Huffington Post reported that celebrations took place in a record 120 countries around the world this year, as the human rights community works to combat discriminatory laws and protect the rights of LGBT people in places such as Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Read more here.

We’re Watching

Tomorrow is the nation’s biggest primary election day this year. During yesterday’s Meet the Press, NBC’s Chuck Todd detailed key themes and races to watch.

Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley discussed on CCTV how much and how little has changed since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, noting that there is still work to be done by the U.S. government.

On the Hill 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Airland Subcommittee will markup the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act. 9:30AM, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will markup of the proposed budget estimates for FY2015 for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and related agencies. 11AM, 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan: An Enduring Threat." 2PM, 2200 Rayburn House Office Building.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee will markup the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act. 3:30PM, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee will markup of the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act. 5PM, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the State Department's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attacks. Secretary of State John Kerry will testify. 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.               

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Personnel Subcommittee will markup of the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act. 10AM, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “Authorization for Use of Military Force After Iraq and Afghanistan.” The hearing will include testimony from The Honorable Stephen W. Preston, General Counsel, Department of Defense; Mary Mcleod, Principal Deputy Legal Advisory, Department of State; The Honorable Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School; and The Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, Partner, Debevoise & Pimpton. 10AM, 214 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a full committee hearing on "Boko Haram: The Growing Threat to Schoolgirls, Nigeria, and Beyond." 10AM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "The Humanitarian Crisis in Syria: Views from the Ground." Andrea Koppel, vice president of global engagement and policy for Mercy Corps; Holly Solberg, director of emergency and humanitarian assistance at CARE; Michael Holsten, senior vice president in Global Communities' Office of International Operations; Zaher Sahloul, president of the Syrian American Medical Society; and Bernice Romero, senior director of policy and advocacy for Save the Children, will testify. 2PM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a full committee closed markup of the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act. 2:30PM, 222 Russell Senate Office Building.

Around Town

Monday May 19, 2014

Freedom House will host a conference on "The International Human Rights System: A Missed Opportunity?" The conference will address the efficacy of the international human rights protection system and ideas for improvement. 9AM, Hotel Monaco, 700 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The Woodrow Wilson Center's (WWC) Global Europe Program will hold a discussion on "The Roma and Human Rights: Challenges and Goals in 2014 - Lessons from the Past, Eyes to the Future." The event will feature Cristina Bejan, visiting scholar at Duke University; Angela Kocze, visiting assistant professor at Wake Forest University; and Florin Priboi, fellow at American University. 3PM, WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, D.C.               

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) will hold a discussion on "Syrians on the Edge: The Status of Refugees in Neighboring Countries." The event will feature Saban Kardas, president of Turkey's Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM); Oytun Orhan, ORSAM project coordinator and researcher; Peri-Khan Aqrawi-Whitcomb, junior research fellow at the Middle East Research Institute; Faysal Itani, resident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East; and Kathleen Newland, director of MPI's Migrants, Migration and Development Program. 12:30PM, MPI Conference Room; 1400 16th Street NW, Suite 300 (Third Floor).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Alliance for Peacebuilding will hold the 2014 spring annual conference on "Exploring New Frontiers in Peacebuilding." The day-long event will explore emerging trends and new frontiers in the field of peacebuilding, including cross-border criminal violence, new approaches to complex conflict environments, and the technology revolution and its impact on our field. 8:30AM, USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Aspen Institute will hold a discussion on "Women in Tunisia's Transition: Claiming Their Space." The event will feature Ikram Ben Said, founder of Aswat Nisaa (Women's Voices) of Tunisia; Nicole Rowsell, resident Tunisia country director at NDI; and Toni Verstandig, chiar of Middle East program at Aspen.10AM, NDI, 455 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Eighth Floor Board Room, Washington, D.C.              

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) will hold a discussion on "The Local and Regional Dynamics of Arab Activism." The event will feature Ahmed Benchemsi, visiting scholar in the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University; Ellen Lust, associate professor of political science at Yale University; Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut; and Marwan Muasher, vice president for studies at CEIP. 2pm, CEIP, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.              

Human Rights First will host a reception marking International Day Against Homophobia. It will feature The Honorable Barbara Lee, U.S. Representative for California’s 13th Congressional District; The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 27th Congressional District; Angeline Jackson, Executive Director, Quality of Citizenship Jamaica; and Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First. 6PM, Rayburn B-354.            

Thursday, May 22, 2014

National Journal will host a discussion on "Pathways to Reform" focusing on immigration policy. The event will feature Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; former Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss., founding partner of BGR Group; Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum; Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies; Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA; Scott Corley, president of Compete America; Russell Harrison, senior legislative representative for grassroots activities at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA; and Steve Clemons, founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. 8AM, Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, 415 New Jersey NW, Washington, D.C.

Human Rights First will hold a discussion on "Must All Wars End? One Year After the President's National Defense University Speech, Where Are We?" The discussion will feature Harold Koh, professor of international law at Yale University; Charlie Savage, Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent at The New York Times; and Heather Hurlburt, senior fellow in national security at Human Rights First. Topics will include a look at detainee transfers out of Guantanamo Bay and the U.S. targeted killing programs. 10AM, Reserve Officers Association, 1 Constitution Avenue NE, Top of the Hill Conference Center, Washington, D.C.          

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung will hold a discussion on "Democracy or Demonization? The 2014 European Parliamentary Elections Considered." The event will feature Bruce Stokes, director of the Global Economic Attitudes Program at Pew Research; Olaf Boehnke, head of the Berlin Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations; Antoine Ripoll, director of the European Parliament Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress; and Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at CSIS. 2PM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

              

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