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Home / Blog / Washington Week on Human Rights: May 18, 2015
May 18, 2015

Washington Week on Human Rights: May 18, 2015

Top News

Equality Yesterday was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), a time to celebrate advocates around the world who work, often at great risk to themselves, to promote freedom, safety, and equality for all people. On Tuesday, May 19, Human Rights First will release a new report about the challenges facing Jamaica’s LGBT community and how the United States can help. Human Rights First researchers recently returned from Jamaica, where the LGBT community continues to face violence, discrimination, and isolation. The report will be issued on the same day that Human Rights First hosts an IDAHO reception on Capitol Hill. The event will feature Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jamaican activist Angeline Jackson, and Dominican activist John Waters. For more information or to RSVP for the event visit the event page.

Antisemitism On Tuesday the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats will host a hearing about the future of U.S.-Hungary Relations. Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke will testify about the rise of Hungary’s Jobbik party, which espouses antisemitic rhetoric and has become the nation’s second most popular political party. Human Rights First’s report, “We’re not Nazis, but...The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care,” details the growing threat to human rights posed by the rise of Jobbik. It also documents the Hungarian government’s actions over the past four years that have violated religious freedoms, curtailed judicial independence and media freedom, and failed to combat a rising tide of violent antisemitism. These actions have led to a series of rebukes by the European Union, the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and from Hungary’s own Supreme Court.

Tunisia On Thursday President Obama and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi will meet at the White House. Essebsi is Tunisia’s first president to be chosen by free and fair democratic elections since its independence in 1956. The two leaders plan to discuss the challenges facing Tunisia’s ongoing transition to democracy, with a focus on security and economic cooperation. They will talk about threats from terrorist groups within Tunisia and operating in neighboring Libya. Human Rights First has urged the administration to act to ensure that terrorism and economic uncertainty do not undermine Tunisia’s progress toward democracy, noting that a peaceful democratic transition in Tunisia is in the national interest of the United States.

Quote of the Week

“This day and every day, the United States stands in solidarity with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and all those around the world who work to advance the unassailable principle that LGBT rights are human rights.”

— National Security Advisory Susan Rice in a statement marking IDAHO

We're Reading

Writing for the Miami Herald, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino and Legal Momentum President and CEO Carol Robles-Román argued that detaining mothers and children in immigration detention is a cruel and unnecessary policy.

In a piece for MSNBC, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley and Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al Khawaja urged President Obama to stand up to Gulf allies during his meetings at Camp David last week.

The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and Christian Science Monitor reported on the president’s Gulf Summit, noting that his failure to mention human rights runs counter to long-term security interests in the region.

A New York Times editorial made the case for ending immigration detention, saying the system “breeds cruelty and harm, and squanders taxpayer money."

The Houston Chronicle reported on the long-term trend of worsening immigration court immigration court backlogs. Human Rights First has called on Congress to increase funding for the courts by adding 280 new judges.

We're Listening

NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show aired a segment examining the ongoing challenges faced by the thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America who have crossed the U.S. Southern border.

On the Hill

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2015

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Trade Promotion Agencies and US Foreign Policy.” Fred Hochberg, chairman and president of Export-Import Bank of US; Elizabeth Littlefield, president and CEO of Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Leocadia Zak, director of US Trade and Development Agency; retired General James Jones, founder of Jones Group International and former national security advisor to the president; Susan Jaime, founder of Ferra Coffee International; Daniel Ikenson, Cato Institute will testify. 10:00 AM, 2172 Rayburn HOB

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “The Rising Tide of Extremism in the Middle East.” Matthew Levitt, director of Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence; Farah Pandith, adjunct senior fellow at CFR will testify. 10:00 AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The Future of US-Hungary Relations” Former Hungarian Ambassador to the US Andras Simonyi; Frank Koszorus Jr, national president of the American Hungarian Federation; our very own Tad Stahnke; Maximillian Teleki, president of the Hungarian American Coalition will testify. 2:00 PM, 2200 Rayburn HOB

WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2015

The House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee will markup of FY2016 Defense Appropriations Bill 9:30 AM, H-140 US Capitol

The House Appropriations Committee will markup of the FY2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. 10:30AM, 2359 Rayburn House Office Building

THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2015

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee will host a hearing on "Admitting Syrian Refugees: The Intelligence Void and the Emerging Homeland Security Threat." 9AM, 311 Cannon House Office Building

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) will host a discussion on "The Federal Budget and Appropriations: Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East." The event will feature Nazanin Ash, visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development; Thomas Melia, executive director of Democracy International; Cole Bockenfeld, advocacy director at POMED; and Stephen McInerney, executive director of POMED. 10AM, 485 Russell Senate Office Building

Around Town

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2015

The National Press Club Newsmaker Program will hold a news conference on CIA counterterrorism successes and failures. The event will feature former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell. 10:00 AM, National Press Club, 14th and F Streets NW, Bloomberg Room, Washington, DC

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2015

Human Rights First will host a reception to mark International Day Against Homophobia. The event will feature Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jamaican activist Angeline Jackson, and Dominican Activist John Waters. For more information or to RSVP for the event visit the event page. 6PM, Rayburn B-340

WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2015

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will host a discussion on "Beyond Security: Why a U.S.-Tunisian Strategic Partnership Matters." The event will feature Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. 3PM, USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2015

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) will host a discussion on "The Federal Budget and Appropriations: Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East." The event will feature Nazanin Ash, visiting policy fellow at the Center for Global Development; Thomas Melia, executive director of Democracy International; Cole Bockenfeld, advocacy director at POMED; and Stephen McInerney, executive director of POMED. 10AM, 485 Russell Senate Office Building

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