Washington Week on Human Rights: July 14, 2014
CHILDREN AT THE BORDER Just days after President Obama released the details of his $3.7 billion proposed supplemental funding request to address the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Congress will turn its attention to the plan and offer up their own solutions via appropriations measures and legislative proposals, including bills expected from Senators McCain and Flake and Congressman Salmon. On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Challenges at the Border: Examining and Addressing the Root Causes Behind the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border.” Human Rights First recently traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border and has issued a set of recommendations on how the administration should deal with families and children crossing the southern border.
MILITARY MONEY The Senate Appropriations Committee will markup the FY2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill this week. Among the key human rights issues expected to be discussed are the U.S. detention facility at GuantanamoBay, Leahy Law vetting, the administration’s Overseas Contingency Operations request, as well as U.S. military spending in nations including Egypt and Bahrain. In addition to the appropriations bill markup, the House Budget Committee will hold a hearingon “The President’s Funding Request for Overseas Contingency Operations.”
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR LGBT ENVOY Human Rights First has been working closely with House Members on the introduction of the International Human Rights Defense Act, a bipartisan bill to direct the Department of State to establish a Special Envoy in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor responsible for foreign policy initiatives to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The bill was originally introduced in the Senate last month by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) along with 24 original cosponsors. The bill seeks to ensure that protecting the human rights of LGBT people remains a key element of America’s foreign policy vision. The bill will likely be introduced in the House this week with bipartisan support.
MALALA DAY Today is Malala Day, the day the United Nations marks the birthday of Malala Yousafzai, a courageous advocate for universal education and girls’ rights. In 2012, the Taliban boarded Malala’s school bus and shot her and two other school girls. Since then, Malala’s personal story and brave activism have inspired people around the world to raise their voices in support of education and against those who threaten girls, boys and women from leading happy and productive lives. Malala is spending today in Nigeria, where she will meet with President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian school girls and the terrorist organization’s continued targeting of girls seeking education.
NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN This Friday, July 20, is the deadline for reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Vienna to help secure the deal during talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and foreign ministers from the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany. U.S. and Iranian officials have acknowledged that some progress has been made, but maintain that there are many unresolved issues to tackle before the deadline.
Quote of the Week
“We raise our voice so that those without a voice can be heard. We pledge not to forget the voiceless. Not to get tired of calling for the creation of a world that we want to live in. Not to lose hope, and not to stop caring. … We are stronger than those who oppress us, who seek to silence us. We are stronger than the enemies of education. We are stronger than fear, hatred, violence and poverty.”
Malala Yousafzai in an opinion piece for The Washington Post
Former commissioner of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) under George W. Bush argued a Washington Times opinion piece this weekend that the United States should stand firm as a beacon of hope for those fleeing violence and persecution by properly resourcing the asylum and refugee systems to address the unprecedented influx of families at the border. For more information, see Human Rights First’s fact sheet: How to Manage the Increase in Families at the Border.
In a piece for Fox News, Gen. Gen. Charles C. Krulak (ret.) argues that the U.S. government needs to do more to combat human trafficking, beginning by increasing the risks and penalties for those who profit from this heinous crime. Learn more here.
Malala Yousafzai published an opinion piece in The Washington Post calling for an end to oppression and for the empowerment of girls, including the young Nigerian girls who continue to be held by Boko Haram.
Interpress News Service reported that Bahrain’s expulsion of Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski is a major setback in the U.S. –Bahrain relationship that demands a response. Learn more here.
Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks was interviewed on Al Jazeera English about the situation for human rights in Egypt one year after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi.
On the Hill
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Terrorist March in Iraq: The U.S. Response.” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk will testify. 10AM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of John Bass to be ambassador to Turkey; Jane Hartley to be ambassador to France; James Pettit to be ambassador to Moldova; and Brent Robert Hartley to be ambassador to Slovenia. 10AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee will markup the “FY2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.” 10AM, 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee and Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on “The Rise of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant): Iraq and Beyond.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey, distinguished visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, chairman of the Board of the Institute for the Study of War; and Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, will testify. 2PM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “FY2015 OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) Budget Request.” Defense Undersecretary/Comptroller Michael McCord; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr.; and Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, will testify. 10:30AM, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building
The House Budget Committee will hold a committee hearing on “The Long-Term Budget Outlook.” Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf will testify. 10AM, 210 Cannon House Office Building
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Challenges at the Border: Examining and Addressing the Root Causes Behind the Rise in Apprehensions at the Southern Border.”10AM, 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Thursday, July 17, 2014
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “Dangerous Passage: Central America in Crisis And the Exodus of Unaccompanied Minors.” 10AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing “The President’s Funding Request for Overseas Contingency Operations.” Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld Jr.; and Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work will testify. 10AM, 210 Cannon House Office Building
The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a full committee markup of the FY2015 Defense Department Appropriations bill. 10:30AM, 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat to be ambassador to Bangladesh; and David Pressman to be alternate representative for special political affairs in the United Nations, alternate representative to the sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and alternate representative for special political affairs in the United Nations. 2PM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Monday, July 14, 2014
The Middle East Institute (MEI) will host a discussion on “The Muslim Brotherhood: Between the Path of Ennahda and the Threat of the Islamic State.” The event will feature Alison Pargeter, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute; Hassan Mneimneh, senior Transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States; Eric Trager, fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and Kate Seelye, senior vice president at MEI. 12PM, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) will hold a discussion on “Forgotten, but Not Gone: The Continuing Threat of Boko Haram.” The event will feature Virginia Comolli, research fellow in the Security and Development Program at IISS; and Bryce Campbell, managing director of IISS-U.S. 2PM,IISS, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington, D.C.
The George Washington University (GWU) will host a forum on global LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) health and rights. The forum will feature Maeve McKean, senior adviser for human rights at the State Department; former Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary for Global Affairs Nils Daulaire; Julie Dorf, senior adviser at the Council on Global Equity; Ntlotleng Mabena, operations manager at the Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention Studies in Johannesburg, South Africa; Javier Vasquez, human rights law adviser at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization; Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Ben Vinson III, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences; and Terri Harris Reed, vice provost for diversity and inclusion at GWU. 7PM, GWU, 805 21st Street NW, School of Media and Public Affairs Building, Morton Auditorium, Washington, D.C.