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September 19, 2016

Washington Week on Human Rights: September 19, 2016

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United Nations

Tomorrow President Obama will give his eighth and final presidential address to the United Nations General Assembly. The speech will likely focus on the refugee crisis and the need for the global community to act in unison to address it.

The address will come amidst two high profile summits in New York City. Today, The United Nations is holding a High Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants to coordinate efforts between member-nations, and tomorrow President Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees tomorrow. During the U.N. High Level Meeting, Human Rights First's Eleanor Acer will be speaking on how to best address the vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants as they journey from persecution to safety.

Human Rights First recently released a comprehensive plan for how the United States should address the global refugee crisis, Respecting Rights and Securing Solutions. It calls on the United States to champion the human rights of refugees, including the rights to protection from return to persecution, the ability to work legally, and freedom from deprivations of liberty and arbitrary detention. The paper notes that if basic human rights are not secured refugees will continue to die, suffer, and struggle to rebuild their lives.

OSCE

This morning in Warsaw the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe began. The conference brings together government representatives from 57 nations as well as civil society representatives and experts for two weeks of discussions culminating in recommendations for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

This year the conference was nearly cancelled because of the Russian Federation’s increasing usage of the OSCE consensus requirement to withhold approval of decisions that relate to human rights issues. Since Russia annexed Crimea, its ire toward the OSCE has grown and led to greater conflicts with many of the member states.

Over the next two weeks activists and delegations will watch to see if Russia seeks to redefine human rights standards. Issues of concern include laws against foreign funding that prohibit human rights NGOs from functioning, the export of morality-based laws that make the LGBT community a target of violence, “anti-terror” policies that target simple expressions of dissent online, support for journalistic activity that whips up hate against Muslims and migrants, and application content restrictions on speech that value certain minority groups—such as Orthodox Christians—over others.

ICE Hearing Homeland Security Oversight

On Thursday the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on oversight of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Featuring ICE Director Sarah Saldana, the hearing will focus on the agency’s mission and its recent failures.

Human Rights First will submit a statement for the record calling for full implementation of the parole directive, individualized custody assessments, and the end to unnecessary detention of asylum seekers, including families.

As detailed in Human Rights First’s recent report Lifeline on Lockdown, The Obama Administration has significantly increased its detention of asylum seekers in recent years, including both adults and families with children.

Quote of the Week 

"As a service member, I know that welcoming refugees makes our nation stronger, both by swelling the ranks of our citizenry with productive members of society, and by countering the narrative of our enemies, who would have the world believe that the United States is unwilling to extend its hand to the downtrodden.

"...And as a refugee, I know that my fellows are among the most grateful, the most patriotic, and the most willing to give back to their community and country."

—Bosnian refugee & Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emir Hadzic (ret.)

We’re Reading

The New York Times writes that President Obama plans to push for refugee aid during his eighth and final presidential address to the United Nations General Assembly this week.

The Indiana Journal Gazette reports on the recent vote in the House of Representatives to block the transfer of 61 detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Foreign Policy and The Wall Street Journal report on President Obama’s plan to increase refugee resettlement by 30 percent.

Marine veteran and member of Veterans for American Ideals Emir Hadzic writes in The Hill that welcoming refugees makes America stronger.
The Christian Science Monitor covers the reaction to the Obama Administration’s newly announced plan to resettle an additional 25,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2017.

We're Watching

The story of Marine veteran and Bosnian refugee, Emir Hadzic, who is fighting to ensure America keeps its promise to U.S. allies. Hadzic is currently rallying support for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program. 

Around Town

Monday, September 19, 2016

Freedom House and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service will host “Diplomacy and Human Rights: A Conversation with Luis Almagro, OAS Secretary General.” The event will feature Luis Almagro, Secretary General OAS; Diana Villiers Negroponte, Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center. 4:30 PM, Copley Formal Lounge, Copley Hall, Georgetown University.               

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The CIA and George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security will host the CIA’s third conference on national security with the theme “The Ethos and the Profession of Intelligence.” The conference will feature CIA Director John Brennan. 9:00 AM, George Washington University, 1957 E Street NW, Lisner Auditorium, Washington, D.C.             

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) will holds a discussion entitled, “Winning the War Against Islamist Terror.” The discussion will feature House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas. 4:00 PM, AEI, 1789 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Center on Global Interests (CGI) will hold a discussion entitled, “Arrested Development: Rethinking Politics in Putin’s Russia.” The discussion will feature Nikolay Petrov, professor at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow; Kirill Rogov, senior research fellow at the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy; Andrei Soldatov, editor of Agentura.ru; Daniel Tresiman, professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Maria Lipman, editor in chief of Counterpoint Journal10:00 AM, National Press Club, 14th and F Streets NW, First Amendment Room, Washington, D.C.               

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a full committee hearing entitled, “15 Years after 9/11: The State of the Fight Against Islamic Terrorism.” The hearing will feature testimony by James Jeffrey, former US ambassador to Turkey and Iraq; Lt. Col. Bryan Price, director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point; and Brian Jenkins, senior advisor to the president of the RAND Corporation, testify. 10:00 AM, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.              

The McCain Institute will hold a conference entitled, “Advancing Democracy and Human Rights Promotes US National Security Interests.” The conference will feature former director of National Intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair; Cynthia Arnson, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center Latin American Program; Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Johnnie Carson, senior adviser to the president of the U.S. Institute of Peace; Charles Dunne, non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute; Larry Garber, senior adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy; Michael Miklaucic, director of research, information and publications at the National Defense University (NDU) Center for Complex Operations; James Schear, visiting professor at the U.S. Army War College; Monica Vegas Kladakis, senior adviser for human rights and democracy at the McCain Institute; David Kramer, senior director for human rights and democracy at the McCain Institute; and Kurt Volker, executive director of the McCain Institute 1:30 PM, NDU, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.                

The Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest will hold a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Administration’s FY2017 Refugee Resettlement Program.” 2:30 PM, 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Vice President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on “The Future of US Foreign Policy,” beginning at 6 PM at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. CFR, 58 East 68th Street, New York, NY.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The House Homeland Security Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled, “Identifying the Enemy: Radical Islamist Terror.” 10:00 AM, 311 Cannon House Office Building.

The House Judiciary Full Committee will hold a hearing on oversight of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The hearing will feature ICE Director Sarah Saldana. 10:00 AM, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.              

As a service member, I know that welcoming refugees makes our nation stronger, both by swelling the ranks of our citizenry with productive members of society, and by countering the narrative of our enemies, who would have the world believe that the United States is unwilling to extend its hand to the downtrodden. 

And as a refugee, I know that my fellows are among the most grateful, the most patriotic, and the most willing to give back to their community and country.

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