Washington Week on Human Rights: January 5, 2015

Top News

TRAFFICKING As 2015 kicked off, Pope Francis issued a call for an end to modern day slavery and urged the international community to double down on efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking. The call came as the United States marks this year’s 150th anniversary of the passage of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery. Human Rights First is planning a series of activities this year to mark the anniversary and to gain support from public and private partners to dismantle every link in the $150 billion business of trafficking. The organization 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.

GUANTANAMO The Obama Administration transferred 28 detainees last year from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, including five to Kazakhstan on December 30. Of the 127 remaining Guantanamo detainees, 59 have been cleared for transfer by U.S. intelligence and security agencies. President Obama has vowed to close the facility before the end of his second term, and December’s transfers make the 2014 total the largest number of transfers since 2009. Human Rights First has issued a blueprint, “How to Close Guantanamo,” detailing steps the administration should take to meet the president’s goal.

CONGRESS Congress returns on Tuesday to begin its 114th session, and Republicans will control both the House and the Senate. Immigration, national security challenges, human trafficking, and foreign policy issues are among the key human rights topics expected to fill this year’s agenda. The Senate will also consider nominees to lead the Department of Defense and the Justice Department.

Quote of the Week

“All of us are called to be free, all are called to be sons and daughters, and each, according to his or her own responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement. From every people, culture and religion, let us join our forces.”

Pope Francis during his January 1 papal message to mark World Peace Day

We’re Reading

As 2014 came to a close, Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord reflected in a piece for The Advocate on the challenges and victories of the past year in the global struggle to protect the human rights of LGBT people. In a companion piece, he outlined what the human rights community should be paying attention to as the struggle for equality continues in 2015.

Following the detention of Bahraini opposition leader Ali Salman, Voice of America reported that the U.S. State Department expressed concern over the actions taken by the Bahraini government. Human Rights First has urged the U.S. government to press Bahraini authorities to release Ali Salman and other political prisoners. Read more here.

In a recent editorial, The Guardian evaluates the challenges facing Europe including the rise of extremist and antisemetic parties which threaten freedom and prosperity in Europe.

We’re Watching

The New York Times recently featured filmmaker Brian Knappenberger’s video opinion piece “The Case Against Torture.” In it, Knappenberger examines the war on terror, the troubled military commissions system, and why the Senate intelligence committee’s CIA torture report is an important step toward ensuring that mistakes of the past are never repeated.

Around Town

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program will hold a discussion on a new report “Holding the Line in the 21st Century,” focusing on border control.​ The event will feature Customs and Border Protection Chief Michael Fisher; Customs and Border Protection Assistant Chief Robert Schroeder; and Stephanie Sanok Kostro, senior fellow in the International Security Program at CSIS. 9:30 a.m., CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.


Published on January 5, 2015


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