Washington Week on Human Rights: August 18, 2014
FAMILIES AT THE BORDER Human Rights First last week visited the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, to investigate the challenges these migrants face including remote immigration court hearings by video and limited to no access to legal counsel. According to recently released data, there has been a steep decline in the “pass” rate for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “credible fear” screening interviews since January of this year, raising concerns that new practices and policies are preventing asylum seekers from seeking protection in the United States. For more information check out Human Rights First’s recommendations for protecting families and asylum seekers.
UGANDA Following the court ruling overturning Uganda’s discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Act on procedural grounds, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last week said he would support a new law calling for imprisonment for “promotion of homosexuality.” Human Rights First is urging the Obama Administration to review the sanctions placed on Uganda following the passage of the original Anti-Homosexuality Act, and to send a clear message that the introduction of any new legislation targeting the human rights of LGBT people would be damaging to the bilateral relationship.
IRAQI REFUGEES More than 246,000 people have fled to refugee camps in Kurdish controlled Iraq and parts of Syria according to UNHCR, exacerbating the need for international assistance in a region already grappling with millions of refugees from the Syrian conflict. Many of these Iraqi refugees are members of minority religious groups who have left their homes for fear of violence from ISIS. The Obama Administration announced last week that it was sending additional military personnel into northern Iraq to assess the scope of the ongoing humanitarian crisis and evaluate opportunities to provide assistance.
HEROES AGAINST TORTURE As the American public awaits the soon-to-be-released Senate intelligence committee torture report, Human Rights First is highlighting nine heroes from the U.S. military, government, and the intelligence community who bravely took a stand against the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.
Quote of the Week
“These children have endured serious risks in traveling to the United States, even death, on a journey of hundreds of miles. As a society, we share a commitment to due process under law. We cannot in good conscience deny critical legal services to these children – many of whom are eligible to apply for asylum in the United States based on the threat of violence.” – Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Time Magazine’s Alex Altman examines the influx of unaccompanied children in New Orleans, and how the crisis exacerbates problems in the already-overstressed immigration court system.
Retired Generals Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar wrote in The Chicago Tribune President Obama needs to show leadership on the Senate’s torture report and not allow the CIA to block the public from seeing its important findings.
Following the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, The Advocate writes about human rights organizations regrouping to ensure that LGBT rights are a more prominent part of discussions regarding Africa’s economic future.
This week’s Newsweek cover story, “Escape from Syria,” profiles Syrian refugees and the journey they take throughout Europe and the Middle East to reach safety. For more information about what the U.S. can do to help Syrian refugees, see Human Rights First’s report “Refuge at Risk.”
A piece on NPR’s Morning Edition explained many of the legal hurdles facing children and families at the border who have bona fide fears of return to their home countries. For more information on protecting families and asylum seekers, see Human Rights First’s recent report, “How to Manage the Increase in Families and Protection Requests at the Border