Washington Week on Human Rights: July 28, 2014

Top News

CHILDREN AT THE BORDER As Congress prepares to recess at the end of this week, it will continue to debate and possibly bring to a vote numerous House and Senate proposals designed to address the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Late last week, the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador met with Congressional leaders and President Obama to discuss the crisis and the administration’s $3.7 billion supplemental funding request to address the surge. This week, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer and other non-governmental observers will visit a temporary shelter for migrant children at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Last week, the organization was part of a delegation that toured the Artesia Federal Holding Facility in New Mexico. Human Rights First has issued a set of recommendations on how the administration should deal with families and children crossing the southern border.

SENATE TORTURE REPORT As early as this week, the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to receive the Obama Administration’s official response to the committee’s CIA torture report that will reportedly set the record straight about torture and put an end to years of speculation and mistruths. In April, the committee voted 11-3 to declassify and release the findings, conclusions, and executive summary of its 6,300-plus page report detailing facts about the CIA torture program. Over the weekend, former and current CIA officials, some of whom are named in the classified Senate document, ramped up a public campaign to undermine the report’s credibility and call into questions its findings. Their comments are out of step with remarks previously made by President Obama, Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, Senator John McCain, and other senior officials familiar with the report’s findings and who are in support of its public release.

U.S.-AFRICA LEADERS SUMMIT Today, in the run-up to next week’s inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, President Obama will hold a town hall meeting with 500 participants from the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a program the president plans to rename in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela. The leaders range in age from 25-35 and have spent their summer studying at U.S. universities. Next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, scheduled for August 4-6, is the largest gathering any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government. It will focus on trade and investment in Africa, as well as America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people.

Quote of the Week

“This problem was not created overnight, and it will not be solved overnight, but the solution is not to abandon our values and the rule of law that we hold up as an example to the world to ensure the safety of every child wherever he or she may live.”

– Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the need to fairly and humanely assess the status of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border

We’re Reading

The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report could be released as early as the end of this week. Learn more here.

Fox News reported that President Obama’s meeting with Central American leaders on Friday presented an opportunity to develop some real solutions to address the human rights challenges in the region that are leading families and unaccompanied minors to flee. Learn more here.

In POLITICO, Josh Gerstein reports that a top White House official suggested Saturday that Congress pass new legislation to support the President’s authority to act against a wider array of terrorist groups, calling into question the 2001 AUMF and how the U.S. should deal with emerging threats of terrorism moving forward.

Christian Science Monitor’s Lourdes Medrano notes that beyond food and shelter, Central American migrant mothers and children need assistance in the form of pro bono legal representation offered by groups including Human Rights First.

According the Agence France Press, this week the Bahrain government moved to further quash dissenting voices by suspending the activities of the foremost peaceful opposition group Al-Wefaq. Senior U.S. State Department official Tom Malinowski was expelled from Bahrain for meeting with Al-Wefaq earlier this month, calling into question the stability of the bilateral relationship. Learn more here.

We’re Listening

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS to discuss American leadership, U.S.-Russia relations, Middle East policy, and other topics.

On NPR, Honduran Foreign Minister Mireya Aguero de Corrales discusses how the U.S. can take steps to address the root cause of the influx of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border.

On the Hill

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “Security Situation in Iraq and Syria: U.S. Policy Options and Implications for the Region.” Steven Biddle, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University; and Max Boot, senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, will testify. 10AM, 2118 Rayburn

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a on “Oversight of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez will testify. 10AM, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittee and Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on “The Shootdown of Malaysian Flight 17 and the Escalating Crisis in Ukraine.” Ia Brzezinski, resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security; Anthony Salvia, executive director of the American Institute in Ukraine; and William Taylor, vice president for Middle East and Africa at the U.S. Institute of Peace, will testify. 10:15AM, 2172 Rayburn

The Congressional Progressive Caucus will hold an ad hoc hearing on “Kids First: Examining the Southern Border Humanitarian Crisis. 2PM, 2322 Rayburn

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of John Tefft to be ambassador to the Russian Federation. 2:15PM, 419 Dirksen

The House Armed Services Committee will mark up H.Res.644, a resolution condemning and disapproving of the Obama administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and expressing national security concerns over the release of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists. 2:30PM, 2118 Rayburn

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “Risks to Stability in Afghanistan: Politics, Security and International Commitment. Anthony Cordesman, chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Catherine Dale, specialist in international security at the Congressional Research Service; Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy; and Michael O’Hanlon, director of research for the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy Program, will testify. 10AM, 2118 Rayburn

Around Town

Monday July 28, 2014

The Young African Leaders Initiative holds the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Presidential Summit, July 28-30, 9AM, Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street NW, Regency Ballroom, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold a discussion on “Children and the Crisis at the Border.” The event will feature former Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection David Aguilar, partner at Global Security and Intelligence Strategies; Michelle Brane, director of the Migrant Rights & Justice Women’s Refugee Commission; former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, chairman and co-founder of the Chertoff Group and member of BPC’s Immigration Task Force; former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Pete Romero, former U.S. ambassador to Ecuador; Leslie Velez, senior protection officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; and Fawn Johnson, correspondent for National Journal. 10AM, National Press Club, 14th and F Streets NW, Holeman Lounge, Washington, D.C.

The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will host a discussion on “The Protection Project Review of the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2014.” The event will feature State Department Ambassador-at-Large in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca; and Mohamed Mattar, senior research professor in international law at SAIS and executive director of the Protection Project. 12PM, SAIS, Nitze Building, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Kenney Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Atlantic Council will holds a discussion on “The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: A Preview.” The event will feature Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield; and J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. 11AM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.


Published on July 28, 2014


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