Washington Week on Human Rights: September 6, 2016
This month in New York City world leaders will attend two major summits designed to address the ongoing global refugee crisis, the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on the 19th and the U.S.-sponsored Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on the 20th. In advance of those gatherings, Congress returns this week to consider appropriations bills that will directly impact the administration’s ability to make good on commitments made during the summits. President Obama will head to New York City to participate in the summits knowing that Congress is working in opposition to their goals.
As the bills stand now, Congress is drastically cutting refugee funding to curtail the number of refugees the United States resettles. A reduction in resettlement will severely limit the United States’ ability to convince other countries to take in more refugees. The clock is ticking as the House and Senate work toward a September 30 appropriations deadline—many expect that Congress will pass continuing resolution that punts spending decisions until after the election.
At the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants the United States and other U.N. member nations will come together to seek a more humane and coordinated approach to the current crisis. At the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees hosted by President Obama, nations will work to solidify global commitments to increasing funding for humanitarian appeals and international organizations, admitting more refugees through resettlement or other legal pathways, and increasing refugees’ access to education and legal work.
Human Rights First recently released “Respecting Rights and Securing Solutions,” a comprehensive plan detailing how the United States should address the global refugee crisis.
This week the Missions of the United States, Canada, and Israel, and the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations will host a forum on global antisemitism. Human Rights First’s Susan Coke will join a discussion on best practices for strengthening cooperation and dialogue between a diverse group of civil society actors, as well as with representatives of governments and technology companies in Europe, the United States and beyond.
The discussion is particularly important in light of multiple critical issues intersecting this year around rising antisemitism, including the global refugee crisis and the backlash in Europe against refugees, terror attacks and backlash against Muslim communities, and the rise of extremist groups exploiting divisive narratives and sowing a culture of fear and intolerance. The discussion will be an important space for identifying how civil society, governments, and others can come together to forge good practices, build coalitions, and devise effective laws and policies to address the global rise in antisemitism.
The United Nations conversation comes one week before Human Rights First co-hosts an historic forum for civil society, government, and tech companies in Paris to discuss countering online extremism and antisemitism in France. In response to growing antisemitic violence in Europe Human Rights First released a fact sheet on how to combat antisemitism and extremism in Germany and issued a comprehensive report for how to do so in France entitled, “Breaking the Cycle of Violence.”
This weekend a court in Bahrain announced an adjournment in the ongoing case against prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab until October 6. Rajab, who was arrested in June, is being prosecuted under trumped up charges for his continuing work to expose human rights abuses in the Gulf nation.
Over the weekendThe New York Times featured an opinion piecewritten by Rajab from jail detailing his ordeal and the worsening human rights conditions in Bahrain. The country’s response was swift; shortly after the letter was published
,Bahraini authorities charged Rajab with publishing “false news and statements and malicious rumors that undermine the prestige of the kingdom.”
Human Rights First Brian Dooley noted that “like many others in Bahrain, he has no chance of a fair hearing or due process, and the decision to compound his prosecution with retaliatory charges will rightly draw international censure at the upcoming UN Human Rights Council in Geneva."
This month Dooley is set to testify before the U.S. Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the current environment for human rights in Bahrain.
Quote of the Week
"I have been dreaming of this for 22 years…I thought my dream had gone when I lost my leg but now it is back for real. I want to send a message to all those injured that they too can achieve their dreams."
Ibrahim Al Hussein, Syrian refugee and member of the Independent Parlympic Athletes (IPA team). Four years after losing part of his right leg in a bombing Al Hussein will compete in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The Japan Times writes that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba remains a stain on United States foreign policy.
Common Dreams discusses the recent announcement that the Department of Homeland Security may end the use of for-profit prisons.
CBC Radio Canada reports on the United States reaching its goal of welcoming ten thousand Syrian refugees in the country and asks whether America should do more.
The Washington Blade shares the story of a Burundi activist fighting for the rights of LGBT people at home.
Liz Robbins writes in The New York Times about 22 mothers who held a hunger strike in Pennsylvania to protest their continued detention in a family immigration center.
AI Monitor tells the story of a family of Syrian refugees who after travelling halfway around the world finally felt under an American flag.
Human Rights First’s Robyn Barnard joins a panel on Aljazeera’s The Stream to discuss the recent announcements by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security concerning the use of privately run prisons and immigration detention facilities.
Monday, September 5, 2016
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) will hold a web event entitled, “The Refugee and Migrant Crisis.” The event will feature remarks by Pierre Vimont, senior associate at Carnegie Europe, Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center; and Carnegie Europe Visiting Scholars Stefan Lehne and Marc Pierini. 8:00 a.m.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
The Atlantic will hold a discussion entitled, “Fifteen Years Later: Are We Any Safer?” focusing on homeland security since 9/11. The discussion will feature Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas); former Rep. Michael J. Rogers (R-Mich) and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; former senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.); former secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin; Vice President for Material Security and Minimization at the Nuclear Threat Initiative Andrew Bieniawski; Steven Brill, author of the Atlantic September cover story “Are We Any Safer?”; Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-large of the Atlantic; Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent at The Atlantic; Karen Greenberg, director of the Fordham. 8:00 a.m., Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Pavilion, Washington, D.C.