Washington Week on Human Rights: November 9, 2015
Guantanamo As early as this week, the Obama Administration is set to release its plan to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The long-awaited strategy reportedly includes a list of seven U.S. sites in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas where detainees could be safely transferred to the United States. Meanwhile, Congress will soon send President Obama its revised National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016. The administration has voiced concerns about the new bill that still includes provisions making it difficult for President Obama to fulfill his pledge to shutter Guantanamo before the end of his second term. There are 112 detainees remaining at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. Fifty-three of the remaining detainees are cleared for transfer and another 47 are eligible for Periodic Review Board (PRB) hearings. Human Rights First’s plan to close Guantanamo is outlined in its blueprint How to Close Guantanamo.
G-20 Leaders’ Summit The G-20 leaders’ summit will take place this week in Antalya, Turkey. The gathering’s agenda will include how member nations can best address the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Turkey currently hosts about 2.2 million refugees, including hundreds of thousands of Syrians who are living in refugee camps. According to the United Nations, 7.6 million people are currently displaced in Syria and need immediate humanitarian assistance, and over 4 million have fled due to conflict and persecution. The U.N. global humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees is only 40 percent funded, and food assistance has been cut. Without meaningful access to resettlement in other safe countries, many are turning to more dangerous routes to reach places of safety where they can rebuild their lives. So far, the United States has committed to increase its overall refugee resettlement for refugees from all countries for the year only by 15,000, and has committed only to resettle “at least 10,000” Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. Human Rights First continues to urge the Obama Administration to lead a global effort to address the situation, including increasing the overall refugee ceiling to 200,000 to support a commitment to resettle at least 100,000 Syrian refugees during the next fiscal year.
Quote of the Week
“(T)he way forward depends principally on strong, persistent leadership from you and your administration. You have no doubt faced real opposition, but the effort your administration has dedicated to overcome it has been inadequate to the task. We therefore urge you to put forward your plan to close Guantanamo as soon as possible, as Congress has requested and as your administration has promised to deliver. Providing such a plan—including where inside the United States the remaining detainees will be held—will demonstrate your commitment to closing Guantanamo before you leave office and communicate your seriousness about working with the Congress to find a responsible way to shutter the facility.”
--A November 5 letter to President Obama from 28 of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals
In a piece for Defense One, Human Rights First’s Raha Wala argued that the defense spending bill is likely President Obama’s last chance to fulfill his promise of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
Reuters reported that the Obama Administration is likely to release a new plan detailing steps it will take to close Guantanamo.
U.S News & World Report reported on discussions about the constitutionality of government surveillance during a panel that was held at the American Bar Association on Friday.
According to The Washington Blade, several Russian lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would effectively ban LGBT people from coming out publicly.
The Epoch Times reported on last week’s congressional hearing focused on the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, noting that many questions remain regarding this year’s upgrade of several countries including TPP country Malaysia.
NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley filed a report about conditions at “The Jungle,” a makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France, where approximately 6,000 refugees are living.
The New York Times launched its first ever virtual reality video, highlighting the lives of three displaced refugee children in Lebanon, Ukraine, and South Sudan. The companion magazine feature, tells the heartbreaking stories of these three children who were forced to leave their homes at a young age and grow up in unstable circumstances.
Monday, November 9, 2015
The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on "Countering violent extremism through early interventions." 2:00 PM, Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The Center for Global Development (CGD) will host a discussion on "LGBT Rights in the Developing World: What Can Washington Do?" 2:00 PM Center for Global Development, 2055 L Street NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C.