Washington Week on Human Rights: February 27, 2017


President Trump to Address Congress

President Trump will give his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. The president is expected to defend his executive orders targeting immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers amidst widespread opposition to these discriminatory policies. The speech will also focus on action the administration has taken during the first month of the presidency, and will urge support for the president’s budget proposals that include a sharp increase to defense spending and drastic cuts to federal agencies such as the State Department.

New Refugee Ban

The Trump Administration is expected to issue a new executive order this week that would reinstate the suspension of the refugee resettlement program and the ban on all travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, despite a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report leaked last week that found that citizens from the banned countries do not pose a significant terror threat to the United States. Administration officials claim the new order will have the same effect as the order which was blocked by federal judges. Human Rights First issued a letter to Secretaries Kelly and Tillerson, urging them to ensure that this new order mitigates the harm to American national security interests posed by the January 25 and January 27 orders, and that any actions taken to implement these orders uphold the United States’ treaty commitments and international legal obligations to protect refugees.

Coats Confirmation Hearing

On Tuesday the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will conduct the confirmation hearing for former Senator Dan Coats, nominee for director of national intelligence. Coats will need to answer tough questions about how he will handle concerns of Russian hacking and interference in the U.S. government as well as whether he intends to uphold the legislative ban against torture. Following a letter to President Trump signed by 176 of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals urging him to reject the use of torture, Secretaries Kelly and Tillerson along with Attorney General Sessions and CIA Director Pompeo all committed to abide by the law.


“The unprecedented period of security and prosperity that we have enjoyed for the past seven decades did not happen by accident. It happened not only because of the appeal of our values, but because we backed them with our power and persevered in their defense.”

—Senator John McCain before the Munich Security Conference.


Janvier Murairi Bakihanaye argues in The Hill that the United States desperately needs to maintain its conflict minerals law.

The Washington Blade reports on a recent Capitol Hill briefing on the impact of the administration’s executive order travel ban on LGBT refugees and on a recent horrifying string of murders of transgender women in El Salvador.

The Independent details how Afghans have become second-class asylum seekers.

Catholic News Agency reports that antisemitism will likely rise in the United States if recent incidents aren’t condemned by the administration. Meanwhile, J Space News writes on the recent interaction between a Jewish reporter and the president during a news conference.

Yahoo Finance reports on the fifth annual END IT Movement “Shine a Light on Slavery” day and its effects on global awareness of human trafficking.


Monday, February 27

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold an event entitled, “The US-Mexico Border: The Way Forward.” The event will feature Jose Garcia, Embassy of Mexico; Andrew Rudman, Managing Director of Manattjones Global Strategies; Pamela Starr, Director of the US-Mexico Network at the University of Southern California; Juan Carlos Villa, Regional Manager for Latin America at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute; Matthew Rooney, Director of Economic Growth and Head of the North American Competitiveness Initiative at the George W Bush Presidential Center; Michael Huston, Principal Director of the Americas Office of Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. 8:30 AM, CSIS Headquarters,  1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold an event entitled, “Aligning Partnerships for Security: A Human Rights Based Approach to Security and Economic Cooperation.” The event will feature JJ Messner, Executive Director of Fund for Peace; Leana Bresnahan, Chief of the Human Rights Office at US Southern Command; Albert Yelyang, National Network Coordinator at the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding; Jeff Krilla, Vice President for Global Public Policy and Government Affairs at Kosmos Energy. 2:00 PM, CSIS Headquarters,  1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, February 28

The Institute of World Politics will host a debate entitled, “Walls or Bridges? A Debate on U.S. Immigration Policy under Trump.” The debate will feature Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute; Matthew O’Brien, Research Manager at FAIR; and Dr. Paul Coyer, Research Professor at IWP. 4:00 PM, Institute of World Politics,  1521 16th  Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication and the Atlantic Council will hold a discussion entitled, “Russian Disinformation: What is it and why does it matter?” The discussion will feature Professor Ben O’Loughlin, Professor of International Relations at the University of London; Professor Alister Miskimmon, Reader in European Politics and International Relations at the University of London; Christopher Walker, Vice President for Studies and Analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy; Dr. Alina Polyakova, Deputy Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council. 4:00 PM, Lindner Commons, 6th Floor, Elliott School of International Affairs,  1957 E Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 1

The Wilson Center Latin America Program will hold an event entitled, “Migration, Trafficking, and Organized Crime in Central America, Mexico, and the United States.” The event will feature Gretchen Kuhner, Director of the Institute for Women in Migration; Monica Salazar, Independent Researcher and Past President at the Collective Against Trafficking in Persons; Dr. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center; Celina Realuyo, Professor of Practice at The National Defense University; Therese Couture, Data Analyst at Polaris. 9:00 AM, Woodrow Wilson Center,  1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C.

New America will hold an event entitled, “How People Become Terrorists.” The event will feature Marc Sageman, Author of Misunderstanding Terrorism and Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. 12:15 PM, New America, 740 15th Street NW #900, Washington, D.C.

The McCain Institute will hold an event entitled, “Understanding the Fight Against Human Trafficking in the 115th Congress.” The event will feature Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Commissioner Jim McDonough, Ramsey County, Minnesota; Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, Palm Beach County, Florida; Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO, 2nd District). 3:30 PM, NACo Conference Center, 660 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 2

The Institute of World Politics will hold a lecture entitled, “The Art of War in the Age of Digital Disinformation: The Case of Poland.” The lecture will feature Anna Wellisz, Communications Strategist. 4:00 PM, The Institute of World Politics, 1521 16thStreet NW, Washington, D.C.


Tuesday, February 28

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Iraq after Mosul.” The hearing will feature testimony by Dr. Michael Knights, Lafer Fellow at The Washington Institute; Hardin Lang, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. 10:00 AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a confirmation hearing for Senator Dan Coats to be Director of National Intelligence. 2:00 PM, 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Wednesday, March 1

OSCE/ODIHR will host a roundtable discussion entitled, “Turning Words Into Action: Addressing Anti-Semitism and Intolerance in the OSCE Region.” The discussion will feature Michael Link, OSCE/ODIHR Director; Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD); Susan Corke, Human Rights First; Christina Finch, OSCE; Mark Weitzman, Simon Wiesenthal Center; Stacy Burdett, Anti-Defamation League. 9:00 AM, US Capitol Visitor’s Center Room 202.

The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on “Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.” The first panel will feature (Classified) Witnesses: Brad Booker, Acting General Counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Paul Morris, Deputy General Counsel for Operations of the National Security Agency; Stephen Vanech, Deputy Chief at the Office of Counterterrorism in the National Security Agency; Stuart Evans, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s National Security Division; Grant Mendenhall, Acting Assistant Director at the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. The second panel will feature (Unclassified) Witnesses: Jeff Kosseff, Assistant Professor of Cyber Science at the United States Naval Academy; April Doss, Partner at Saul Ewing LLP; Elizabeth Goitein, Co-Director of the Liberty & National Security Program at the NYU Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice; Adam Klein, Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. 10:00 AM, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.


Published on February 27, 2017


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