Republicans and Democrats, religious groups and civil liberties groups, military officers and peace activists, prosecutors and defense attorneys: we’ve worked with all of them at key moments to forge progress and to advance our long-term project of building a broad pro-human rights constituency in the United States. Learn about our coalition of retired military leaders.
Human trafficking has claimed an estimated 20 million-plus victims worldwide—with more than 800,000 victims enslaved each year. And yet, despite significant anti-trafficking efforts over the past decade, the number of modern-day slaves seems only to be growing. We are attacking the scourge of modern-day slavery by providing the U.S. government and other leaders with the tools they need to disrupt the criminals, networks, mafias and gangs that make more than $150 billion a year by exploiting other human beings.
Our Asylum Representation Program, which recruits and trains lawyers to represent refugees on a pro bono basis, is one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind in the country. Its impact could hardly be more profound: liberty instead of oppression, and sometimes life instead of death, for thousands of people. And beginning with the Refugee Act of 1980, which we helped draft, we’ve been at the forefront of all major reforms to the asylum system. Photo: AP.
After 9-11, the U.S government embraced the use of torture, renouncing its global leadership role on this issue. Thanks in part to the work we did in partnership with military leaders and interrogation and intelligence professionals, President Obama signed an executive order banning torture. In time, the landmark Senate Intelligence Committee torture report was released, documenting a program that was far more brutal and widespread than Americans were led to believe. Since then, the Obama Administration and Congress have passed legislation to make loophole lawyering impossible and ensure that our country never tortures again.
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Since the beginning of the democratic uprising in Bahrain in 2011, the U.S. government has failed to stand behind peaceful human rights activists as they face a brutal crackdown. We amplify the voices of Bahraini activists to give them a measure of protection, and we work alongside as we press the U.S. government to support their cause.
For decades the United States has backed Middle Eastern dictatorships in the name of “stability.” But as recent years have shown repression-created stability is illusory. To push back against the destructive impact of brutal regimes that disregard human rights and to defeat violent extremists who exploit sectarian tensions and popular grievances to fuel conflict and unrest, the United States should put protection of human rights as a cornerstone of its Middle East policies. It should confront violent extremism, call on its allies to condemn hateful ideologies that denigrate people of other sects or religions and prioritize urging allies such as Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to turn away from repression and towards respecting basic rights and freedoms.
The overthrow of President Mubarak in 2011 offered the U.S. government a chance to reshape its policy toward Egypt and finally support human rights. Yet U.S. backing for democratic reforms has been halting. Drawing on years of experience working in Egypt, we’re pressing the U.S. government to once and for all place human rights at the heart of this key bilateral relationship. Photo: AP.
The world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Over 4 million Syrians have fled their country due to conflict and persecution, and 7.6 million are displaced within Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. We’re pressing the U.S. government to demonstrate global leadership to improve access to protection for Syrian refugees by leading an effort to meet the United Nations humanitarian appeal and committing to significantly increase U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees.
As defenders fight for their rights in the face of often brutal persecution, they often look to the United States for support. We help them secure that support. Working alongside defenders, we amplify their voices and seek policy changes to benefit their cause. And because defenders are their own best advocates, we connect them to U.S officials capable of influencing foreign policy.
Too often its diplomacy with Indonesia, the U.S. government sidelines human rights concerns in favor of counterterrorism. Some of the security forces that receive U.S funding have committed human rights abuses. The U.S. government should use its leverage to end impunity for security forces. It should also press Indonesia to repeal its discriminatory blasphemy law and to seek accountability in the case of assassinated human rights activist, Munir Said Thalib. Photo: AP.
American popular culture reaches into living rooms and theaters across the world. We challenge the entertainment industry to recognize this power and tackle human rights issues with the accuracy and complexity they demand. We created the Sidney Lumet Award for Integrity in Entertainment to honor creators who meet this challenge.
After 9-11, Congress authorized military force against those responsible. But the war morphed into an ever-expanding conflict that has enabled human rights abuses. Torture, indefinite detention, unjust military commissions, and legally dubious drone strikes threaten national security as terrorists use them to win supporters and U.S. credibility crumbles. American ideals are a national security asset: the U.S. government best protects Americans when it protects human rights. It’s time to protect national security and fight terrorism in a smart, tailored, rights-respecting way.