Washington Week on Human Rights: December 14, 2015

Top News

Extremism in France During yesterday’s second round of French regional elections, voters rejected candidates from the far-right political party the National Front. The development came a week after first round voting indicated major gains for the divisive party headed by Marine Le Pen. In the aftermath of last month’s tragic attacks in Paris, France’s far-right groups—including the National Front—have escalated their xenophobic and islamophobic rhetoric, and mobilized supporters to turn their anger against vulnerable minorities. Human Rights First notes that yesterday’s poor showing for the National Front is a clear indicator that French voters ultimately reject the political party’s xenophobic, nationalist platform. On January 7, the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket attacks in Paris, Human Rights First will release a report that examines how the rise of far-right extremism,  Islamic extremism, and antisemitism are converging to fuel intolerance and violence in France.

Equality in Jamaica Last week, Jamaican human rights activist Maurice Tomlinson announced that he has filed a constitutional challenge against Jamaica’s discriminatory anti-sodomy law. The case is part of holistic efforts to advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the country. Tomlinson filed the claim on November 27 after a similar suit was withdrawn in August 2014 when the plaintiff faced threats against himself and his family. The case was announced just days after Tomlinson participated in a reception commemorating Human Rights Day hosted by Human Rights First and the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to support the efforts of Jamaican civil society who are creating momentum for change, and recognize the efforts of Jamaican leaders standing in support of LGBT human rights. Human Rights First’s report, “The World as it Should Be: Advancing the Human Rights of LGBT People in Jamaica,” outlines steps the U.S. government should take to support Jamaican civil society and advance the human rights of all Jamaicans.

Torture Human Rights First has launched an online annotated version of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA torture program. The online resource was released one year after of the report’s executive summary became public. The annotated version of executive summary is designed to guide the public through the report’s most important revelations.

Quote of the Week

“We get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations. … This is something that we are able to do in this country because we define a Canadian not by a skin color or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share.”

—Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

We’re Reading

Writing for Stars & Stripes, director for Veterans Experience at the Department of Veterans Affairs Walter Cooper and Human Rights First’s Scott Cooper made the case for resettling Syrian refugees, emphasizing that doing so aligns with the core American values they and other veterans have fought for.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the debate on the use of torture has resurfaced with presidential candidates, noting that the recently passed McCain-Feinstein amendment to the NDAA will make it impossible for future presidents to return to post 9/11 torture tactics.

The Advocate reported that Jamaican human rights activist Maurice Tomlinson filed a new claim challenging the constitutionality of Jamaica’s discriminatory anti-sodomy law.

Voice of America highlighted last week’s Human Rights Summit in Washington, D.C. calling for greater U.S. leadership on human rights.

We’re Watching

Last week during Human Rights First’s fourth annual Human Rights Summit,Secretary of Labor Tom Perez delivered an impassioned speech about the need to end human trafficking, highlighting a new Human Rights First report titled “Corporate Liability and Human Trafficking,” which analyzes how companies may be held legally responsible for human trafficking in their supply chains.

On the Hill

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Patrick Murphy to be undersecretary of the Army; Janine Davidson to be undersecretary of the Navy; and Lisa Disbrow to be undersecretary of the Air Force. 9:30AM, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee hearing on “Egypt Two Years After Morsi (Part II).” Eric Bjornlund, president of Democracy International; Steven Cook, fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Dand avid Schenker, fellow and director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Program on Arab Politics, testify.1PM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “Terrorist Travel: Vetting for National Security Concerns.” 9AM, 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Around Town

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The World Affairs Council (WAC) will hold a discussion on “Pragmatism vs. Policy: The U.S. Approach Toward Refugees.” The event will feature Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Samuel Witten, counsel for Arnold and Porter LLP. 6:30PM, WAC, 1800 K Street NW, Suite 1014, Washington, D.C.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) will hold a discussion on “Homeland Security Implications of ISIS Attacks.” The event will feature former CIA Director Michael Hayden, principal at the Chertoff Group; former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, partner at WilmerHale; and former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner, senior principal at Sentinel Strategy and Policy Consulting (via videoconference). 1PM, CFR, 1777 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.

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Published on December 15, 2015

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