Republicans and Democrats, religious groups and civil liberties groups, military officers and peace activists, prosecutors and defense attorneys: we’ve worked with all of them at key moments to forge progress and to advance our long-term project of building a broad pro-human rights constituency in the United States. Learn about our coalition of retired military leaders.
Human trafficking has claimed an estimated 20 million-plus victims worldwide—with more than 800,000 victims enslaved each year. And yet, despite significant anti-trafficking efforts over the past decade, the number of modern-day slaves seems only to be growing. We are attacking the scourge of modern-day slavery by providing the U.S. government and other leaders with the tools they need to disrupt the criminals, networks, mafias and gangs that make more than $150 billion a year by exploiting other human beings.
The Global Magnitsky Act is the most comprehensive human rights and anti-corruption sanctions tool in U.S. history. Human Rights First works with civil society groups around the world to ensure that the United States uses this tool to hold the worst human rights abusers accountable.
Our Asylum Representation Program, which recruits and trains lawyers to represent refugees on a pro bono basis, is one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind in the country. Its impact could hardly be more profound: liberty instead of oppression, and sometimes life instead of death, for thousands of people. And beginning with the Refugee Act of 1980, which we helped draft, we’ve been at the forefront of all major reforms to the asylum system. Photo: AP.
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Many countries have instituted blasphemy laws in the name of protecting religious freedom. But these laws are often used to persecute religious minorities and suppress freedom of expression. We press the U.S. government to vigorously oppose them, and why we led a successful effort at the U.N. to oppose a “defamations of religious” measure—a global blasphemy code. Photo: Corbis.
To provide military leaders a vehicle to advocate counterterrorism policies that respect human rights, we’ve assembled a coalition of more than 65 retired admirals and generals. Because of its pivotal role in altering the national debate over torture, President Obama invited the coalition to stand with him as he signed the executive order banning the practice. We continue to work with the coalition to champion security policies that uphold the rule of law.
We partner with LGBT and other civil society activists in Russia who are fighting for their rights. Taking our cue from these activists, we urge the U.S. government to emphasize human rights in its diplomacy with Russia, all the more important now that the Putin government has launched a far-ranging clampdown on dissent. Photo: AP.
The world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Over 4 million Syrians have fled their country due to conflict and persecution, and 7.6 million are displaced within Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. We’re pressing the U.S. government to demonstrate global leadership to improve access to protection for Syrian refugees by leading an effort to meet the United Nations humanitarian appeal and committing to significantly increase U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees.
Systemic injustice, especially against Black and brown people, has plagued America since its inception. Even as bigoted policies and global forces, like climate change, exacerbate preexisting problem, we are working to build a more just world in which every person’s intrinsic human rights are respected and protected, where societies value and invest in all their people.
So-called “targeted killing” has become central to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. However, there is ample evidence that the program does not comport with respect for human rights and international law. So we’re pressing the U.S. government to make the program more transparent and to bring it onto firm legal footing. Photo: AP.
We champion a free, open, and single internet, free from government interference. Particularly in repressive societies, the internet is a key tool for communication and political organization, and despite the efforts of repressive regimes to hijack it for their ends, it remains essential to human rights activists. Photo: AP.
After 9-11, the U.S government embraced the use of torture, renouncing its global leadership role on this issue. Thanks in part to the work we did in partnership with military leaders and interrogation and intelligence professionals, President Obama signed an executive order banning torture. In time, the landmark Senate Intelligence Committee torture report was released, documenting a program that was far more brutal and widespread than Americans were led to believe. Since then, the Obama Administration and Congress have passed legislation to make loophole lawyering impossible and ensure that our country never tortures again.