National Military Strategy Should Include Greater Protection for Human Rights
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First said that the 2015 National Military Strategy, released today, should place a greater emphasis on ensuring that U.S. partners in counterterrorism uphold human rights. Additionally, the organization urges the administration to clarify the scope and legal basis for its use of U.S. military force. Failure to clarify who the United States is at war with and why has contributed to policies that have eroded human rights protections and the rule of law.
Governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain, each of which are considered “vital partners” of the Untied States, have systematically denied basic rights and freedoms to their people and have imposed restrictions on the work of independent civil society organizations. Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council have supported regional governments that are denying human rights to their people and are using incitement of sectarian tension for political purposes, thereby fueling conflict and insecurity throughout the region to the detriment of U.S. interests.
“In all these countries human rights defenders are in jail and organizations have been forced to close or to suspend their activities under government pressure,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “In Bahrain the security forces armed and trained by the United States are almost exclusively Sunni despite the country having a majority Shia population. This undercuts the United States’ efforts in fighting sectarianism.”
Human Rights First also notes that in order to protect U.S. national security, the Obama Administration should prioritize closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which has served as a recruiting tool for terrorist organizations.