Washington Week on Human Rights: February 2, 2015

 Top News

CARTER CONFIRMATION On Wednesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Ashton Carter, President Obama’s nominee to serve as the next secretary of defense. Carter is expected to face questions about key human rights and national security issues, including inquiries about torture, war authorities, and the administration’s plan to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There are currently 122 detainees at Guantanamo, and about half of those remaining have been cleared for transfer by U.S. intelligence and security agencies. Human Rights First has issued a blueprint, “How to Close Guantanamo,” detailing steps the administration should take to meet the president’s goal.

PRESIDENT’S BUDGET Today, President Obama will propose a 10-year budget that includes $4 trillion in FY2016 spending. White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted, “Budgets are important because they’re a way that we codify our values and priorities.” With that in mind, human rights advocates will be closely examining the president’s spending plan and looking to see how the administration is prioritizing adequate funding for immigration courts, regulating foreign aid and military support, supporting initiatives to combat human trafficking, and the justifying the $3 million per detainee expense associated with operating the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

TRAFFICKING The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will host a Wednesday hearing on “Ending Modern Slavery: What is the Best Way Forward?” The hearing comes a week after prominent leaders from the business and financial sectors, law enforcement, the military, federal, state and local government, and civil rights community came together in Washington to launch a major public education and advocacy effort to disrupt the business of human trafficking. Former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps General Charles C. Krulak (ret.) and former Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Louis J. Freeh co-chair the group of campaign ambassadors, which is organized by Human Rights First. Among the ambassadors is David Abramowitz, vice president of Policy and Government Relations, Humanity United, who is testifying at this Wednesday’s hearing. Human Rights First recently issued a blueprint, “How to Disrupt the Business of Human Trafficking,” that outlines steps the United States can take to weaken the human trafficking supply chain and put traffickers out of business.

Quote of the Week

“By failing to replace the sweeping war authorizations Congress established for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago, with a far narrower mandate, lawmakers are abdicating one of their most consequential constitutional powers: the authority to declare war.”

—The New York Times, January 31 editorial

We’re Reading

The HillTIMEVoice of America, and Catholic News highlighted Human Rights First’s new campaign focused on disrupting the business of modern day slavery which was launched last week in Washington.

Newsweek spoke with former interrogators Colonel Steve Kleinman and Mark Fallon, who explained that torture is not only a human rights violation but it is ineffective and bad for the foreign policy goals of the United States.

U.S. News & World Report’s Teresa Welsh investigated the dire situation for Syrian refugees in Jordan, where many refugees are migrating back to refugee camps.

USA Today reported on President Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia, noting that the U.S. relationship with the Saudi kingdom is complicated by ongoing human rights concerns.

Reuters reported that the International Human Rights Defense Act (IHRDA) was reintroduced in both the House and the Senate. The IHRDA would create a special envoy for the human rights for LGBT people in the State Department. Learn more here.

We’re Watching

Last week, the first episode of “A Path Appears” aired on PBS. In it, The New York Times’ Nick Kristof joins Ashley Judd, Blake Lively ad Malin Akerman to examine trafficking in the United States, the plight of its victims and programs that target modern day slavery.

On the Hill

Monday, February 2, 2015

President’s Budget to be released

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “World Wide Threats.” Mark Chandler, acting director for intelligence (J-2), The Joint Staff; Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, director for operations (J-3), The Joint Staff ; and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, will testify. 10AM, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on “The President’s FY2016 Budget Proposal.” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will testify. 10AM, 1300 Longworth House Office Building

The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the president’s FY2016 budget request. 10AM, 608 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Examining the Adequacy and Enforcement of Our Nation’s Immigration Laws.” 11AM, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Western Hemisphere Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The Strategic Importance of the Western Hemisphere: Defining U.S. Interests in the Region.” Shannon O’Neil, senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Bonnie Glick, senior vice president for the Meridian International Center’s GlobalConnect Division; Evan Ellis, research professor of Latin American studies in the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute; and Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society, will testify. 11AM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “Ending Modern Slavery: What is the Best Way Forward?” The first panel includes Mr. Gary Haugen, President, International Justice Mission, Arlington , Virginia; Ms. Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director, Solidarity Center, Washington , DC. The second panel includes Mr. David Abramowitz Vice President, Policy And Government Relations, Humanity United, Washington , DC, Mr. James Kofi Annan, Founder, Challenging Heights, Kaneshie Accra , Ghana, Ms. Shandra Woworuntu, Trafficking Survivor, New York , New York. 9:30AM, Dirksen 419

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Ashton Carter to be Defense Secretary. 9:30AM, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Deferred Action on Immigration: Implications and Unanswered Questions.” 10AM, 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “The President’s FY2016 Budget.” Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan will testify. 10:30AM, 210 Cannon House Office Building

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Senate Armed Services Committee will host a hearing on the Guantanamo detention facility and the future of United States detention policy. 9:30AM, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Around Town

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Brookings Institution will host a discussion on “Countering Violent Extremism: Improving Our Strategy for the Future.” The event will feature Anastasia Norton, manager at Monitor 360; William McCants, director of U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings; Bruce Riedel, director of the Intelligence Project at Brookings; and Daniel Byman, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. 10AM, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Falk Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) will hold a discussion on “What To Do About U.S.-India Relations.” The event will feature Alyssa Ayres, CFR senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia and former deputy assistant secretary of State for South Asia’ Robert Blackwill, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy in the CFR David Rockefeller Studies Program and former U.S. ambassador to India; and Stephen Cohen, senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. 12:30PM, CFR, 1777 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.

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Published on February 2, 2015


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