Washington Week on Human Rights: August 11, 2014

Top News

Antisemitism in Europe European nations continue to struggle with the rise of antisemitic violence. In recent months, businesses and places of worship have been desecrated and looted and Jews have been attacked and threatened. This violence comes at a time when antisemitic propaganda is on the rise as far-right and neo-Nazi parties have gained electoral strength in places such as Greece and Hungary. This dangerous trend is creating an environment where violence is often tolerated. A forthcoming report from Human Rights First, “We’re not Nazis, but…: The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care,” examines factors contributing to the rise of antisemitic political parties and includes recommendations for the Obama Administration and the European Union.

CIA Torture Report Last week it was revealed the CIA’s redactions to the Senate intelligence committee’s torture report are so extensive that the committee has postponed release of the report until it can negotiate fewer redactions with the CIA. The agency has a clear conflict of interest when it comes to redacting the report, which extensively documents wrongdoings committed during post-9/11 interrogations. The White House has defended the CIA’s redactions, but in doing so has enabled the CIA to cover its own tracks. For more information, see Human Rights First’s resources about the torture report.

Iraq This week, President Obama began military strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in northern Iraq to protect American personnel and thousands of Yazidis who are being threatened by the group. For more information about the key legal and policy questions on the use of force in Iraq, see Human Rights First’s fact sheet.

Crisis at the Border President Obama indicated last week that he will issue a series of executive orders during recess to deal with the ongoing crisis at the border, absent Congressional action on the issue. The administration has not unveiled which policies it is considering, but any action would have to use existing resources. The president had proposed a $3.7 billion supplemental funding bill to address the surge that was left on the table when Congress adjourned for August. For more information check out Human Rights First’s recommendations for protecting families and asylum seekers.

Quote of the Week

“Strong civil society and respect for democracy, the rule of law, and human rights – these are not just American values. They’re universal values. They’re universal aspirations.”

– Secretary of State John Kerry addressing the Civil Society Forum Global Townhall on August 4

We’re Reading

In a piece for The New York Times, Major General Antonio M. Taguba (ret.) calls upon President Obama to ensure that the CIA does not mount a campaign to discredit the forthcoming findings of the torture report, arguing for the need for accountability and oversight  to guard against torture moving forward.

McClatchy’s Michael Doyle and Marisa Taylor report on the CIA’s attempt to keep the public in the dark on its “enhanced interrogation techniques” through numerous redactions to the Senate intelligence committee torture report. Adam Serwer from MSNBC argued that it is time for the United States to take responsibility for torture.

Justin Snow from Metro Weeklynoted that there was a marked lack of emphasis on the human rights of LGBT people during last week’s historic U.S.-African Leaders Summit.

Ken Klippenstein and Paul Gottinger for Middle East Eye questioned the ongoing military assistance the United States is providing to Egypt at a time when there are serious human rights abuses occurring in the country.

We’re Watching

Thomas L. Friedman from the New York Times sat down with President Obama for an exclusive interview on the state of the world.

Around Town

August 11, 2014

The Inter-American Dialogue (IAD) will hold a discussion on the current crisis of Central American child migrants, featuring new research findings by the IAD. The event will feature Manuel Orozco, IAD senior fellow and adviser to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and Cristina Garcia of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities. 12PM, IAD, 1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 510, Washington, D.C.

August 13, 2014

The Society for International Development, Washington, D.C. Chapter (SIDW) will host a forum on “A New Strategy for Civil Society Development for Africa. The event will feature Lars Benson, senior program officer for Africa at the Center for International Private Enterprise, Jeremy Meadows, Senior Democracy Specialist in the Bureau for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Natalie Ross, program officer at the Aga Khan Foundation, and Richard O’Sullivan, civil society workgroup chair at SIDW. 12PM, Center for International Private Enterprise, 1155 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

August 14, 2014

The Middle East Institute (MEI) will hold a discussion on “Preventing Violence in the Name of God: The Role of Religion in Diplomacy” with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations Jerry White, Deputy U.S. Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Arsalan Suleman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, and Allen Keiswetter, scholar at MEI. 10AM, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

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Published on August 11, 2014


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