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Home / Blog / Washington Week on Human Rights: March 2, 2015
March 02, 2015

Washington Week on Human Rights: March 2, 2015

Top News

GUANTANAMO This week, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee to discuss Pentagon funding. Among the questions the committee should raise is whether the Pentagon has provided adequate resources to carry out the president’s plan to shutter the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There are currently 122 detainees at Guantanamo, and about half of those remaining have been cleared for transfer by U.S. intelligence and security agencies. Human Rights First has issued a blueprint, “How to Close Guantanamo” detailing steps the administration should take to meet the president’s goal of shuttering the facility before the end of his second term.

REFUGEE PROTECTION Vice President Biden will travel to Central America early this week to meet with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and the president of the Inter-American Development Bank to discuss the humanitarian crisis driving migration from Central America to the United States. Back in the United States, the administration is dealing with this humanitarian crisis by housing women and children who are fleeing the region’s violence in immigration jails. Human Rights First is urging the administration to improve its treatment of Central American women and children who were detained at the southern border. The United States should stop detaining families with children and ensure that these women and children receive fair proceedings to determine if they qualify for asylum or other protection in the United States. Human Rights First’s fact sheet “How to Manage the Increase in Families at the Border” details steps the United States should take to protect refugees deserving of U.S. protection.

LGBT ENVOY Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry named Randy Berry to serve as the nation’s first-ever Special Envoy for Human Rights of LGBT Persons. The special envoy will be tasked with advancing the State Department’s initiatives to protect the human rights of LGBT people, responding to discrimination and violence against LGBT people, and building partnerships with LGBT activists around the world. Human Rights First has advocated for the appointment of a special envoy for the human rights of LGBT people, urging President Obama to build on his administration’s progress in advancing equality by creating this position.

Quote of the Week

“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally – the heart and conscience of our diplomacy. That’s why we’re working to overturn laws that criminalize consensual same-sex conduct in countries around the world. It’s why we’re building our capacity to respond rapidly to violence against LGBT persons, and it’s why we’re working with governments, civil society, and the private sector through the Global Equality Fund to support programs advancing the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide.”

—Secretary of State John Kerry during his remarks announcing Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons

We're Reading

In a piece for The Hill former Representative Dan Lungren offered support for two anti-trafficking bills being considered in the Senate, the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Lungren is an ambassador for Human Rights First’s campaign to disrupt the business of modern slavery. Learn more here.

​Last week, as reported by U.S. News & World Report, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of Randy Berry to the post of Special Envoy for LGBT rights. Berry will promote the protection of the human rights of LGBT people around the world.

As reported by Kimberly Dvorak for the Examiner, military trial proceedings have been suspended for five of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay who are charged with masterminding the 9/11 attacks. Half of all terrorism convictions handed down from these military commissions have been overturned on appeal, demonstrating that federal courts are more efficient and better equipped to handle terrorism cases.

In a piece for New York Law Journal, Human Rights First’s Melissa Hooper, Ignacio Mujica, and Megan Corrarino argued that U.S. courts have an important role to play in strengthening and enforcing human rights law.

We're Watching

On Friday, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down near Red Square. Over the weekend, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” to discuss the murder and how it may affect the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

On the Hill

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The House will hold a joint meeting with the Senate to receive an address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on "The President's Proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL and U.S. Policy, Strategy, and Posture in the Greater Middle East." Defense Undersecretary for Policy Christine Wormuth; and Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of the U.S. Central Command, will testify. 10AM, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on "Defense Authorization Request for FY2016 and the Future Years Defense Program." Defense Secretary Ashton Carter; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, will testify. 2:30PM, 216 Hart Senate Office Building

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and the National Interest Subcommittee hearing on "Oversight of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Ensuring Agency Priorities Comply with the Law." Joseph Moore, CFO of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Donald Neufeld, associate director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Service Center Operations Directorate; and Dan Renaud, associate director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Field Operations Directorate, will testify. 2:30PM, 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee hearing on the Defense Department budget. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey; and Defense Undersecretary/Comptroller Mike McCord will testify. 10AM2359 Rayburn House Office Building

Around Town

Monday March 2, 2015

The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion on "The Future of the Fight against ISIL."The event will featureSpecial Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL and retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen; and Fred Kempe, president and CEO of The Atlantic Council. 5PM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

Politico will host a Playbook discussion That will feature Mike Allen, Politico's chief White House correspondent, with Senior Advisor to the President Dan Pfeiffer about policy. They will discuss politics and the news of the day. 5:30PM, The W Hotel, 515 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Heritage Foundation and the McCain Institute will host a discussion on "Combating Human Trafficking: Evaluating the Roles of Government and Civil Society." The event will Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; Holly Burkhalter, vice president of government relations and advocacy at the International Justice Mission; Tom Kelly, deputy vice president in the Department of Policy and Evaluation at the Millennium Challenge Corporation; Olivia Enos, research assistant at Heritage; Cindy McCain, member of the Human Trafficking Advisory Council at The McCain Institute; and Lisa Curtis, senior fellow for South Asia at Heritage. 12PM, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Lehrman Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host a Statesman Laureate Lecture on "European and International Security: Countering Violent Extremism and Foreign Policy Aggression." The event will feature former Prime Minister of Spain Felipe Gonzalez; John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS; and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, counselor and trustee at CSIS. 9AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Second Floor Conference Center, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs will hold a discussion on "After the Paris and Copenhagen Attacks: Muslim Minorities and the Future of Democracy in Europe." The event will feature Thomas Banchoff, vice president for global engagement at Georgetown; Ebrahim Moosa, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame; Jocelyne Cesari, senior fellow at the Berkley Center; and Nathan Lean, director of research for the Pluralism, Diversity and Islamophobia Project in the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown. 4PM, Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets NW, Copley Formal Lounge, Washington, D.C.

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