Washington Week on Human Rights: June 5, 2017

Top Items

Trump Administration Asks the Supreme Court to Reinstate Refugee Ban

On Thursday the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that keeps in place an injunction blocking President Trump’s executive order banning travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, and to stay the preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii—which stays the suspension of the refugee resettlement program, pending a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the preliminary injunction against implementation of Section 2(c) of the President Trump’s revised executive order, which bars entry of nationals from six Muslim majority countries for a minimum of 90 days. The majority opinion cites limits to executive power when it comes in conflict with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Human Rights First urged the Court to uphold these injunctions against the executive order and continues to call on President Trump to withdraw the order and to refrain from attempts to block resettlement or entry of Muslims or otherwise discriminate based on religion or nationality.

Executive Branch Agencies Begin Handing Back Copies of Senate Torture Report

Congressional officials have indicated that the Trump Administration has begun to return copies of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, a move which would allow the copies to be locked in Senate vaults or destroyed. The report is the result of an investigation launched with bipartisan support, and was both adopted and declassified in separate bipartisan votes in the Senate intelligence committee. The findings in the report demonstrated significant institutional and operational failures across multiple agencies and that the CIA systematically misled the administration and Congress about the efficacy of the program. A redacted version of the report’s executive summary was released in December 2014. Then-Chairman of the intelligence committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), sent the full 6,963-page report to President Obama and the heads of relevant executive branch agencies, urging them to learn from the report and “to help make sure that this experience is never repeated.” In early 2015 Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) asked the executive branch to return copies of the report when he became Chairman of the committee. In December of last year, the Obama Administration decided to archive a copy of the report. That copy, however, will not be available for public view for 12 years.

Bahraini authorities escalate crackdown on human rights defenders

On Friday May 26, Bahraini human rights defender Ebtisam Al Sayegh was summoned by the Bahraini police and held for seven hours. She describes how she was interrogated, beaten, sexually assaulted, and threatened with rape. Upon her release she was immediately hospitalized. This comes following President Trump’s meeting with the king of Bahrain on May 21 where he assured the king of an improved relationship with the United States. Two days after this meeting a police raid in the village of Duraz left five people dead. Since Trump and the king met, hundreds of people have been arrested and the island kingdom’s only independent newspaper has been shut down.

Quote of The Week

“Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles—that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another. Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”

—Majority Opinion 4th Circuit Court of appeals.

We’re Watching

To kick off LGBT Pride month, we’re watching the story of Anastasia and Elvira, two asylum seekers from Russia.

We’re Reading

The Wall Street Journal reports that the chief of the United Nations’ refugee agency is making a case for higher levels of funding based on national security considerations.

The Budapest Beacon writes about a recent trip that a delegation from Central European University in Hungary made to Washington.

Scott Cooper writes in Task and Purpose about the Memorial Day ceremony he attended while stationed as a Marine in Fallujah.

The Associated Press reports on a court ruling in Bahrain that ordered the country’s main opposition group to dissolve.

The Miami Herald reports on a group of 12 retired admirals and generals urging the Supreme Court to hear the case of Guantanamo detainee Abd Al-Rahim Hussain Mohammed al-Nashiri.

The Hill reports on a coalition of human rights groups that recently urged National Securitgy Advisor McMaster to strengthen rules on drone strikes.

The Dallas Morning News writes that there are simple solutions to the United States’ immigration problems.

On The Hill and Around Town

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Wilson Center will hold an event entitled, “Fifty Years Since 1967: What Have We Learned about Arab-Israeli Peacemaking?” The event will feature Ziad Asali, President and Founder of the American Task Force on Palestine; Hussein Ibish, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington; Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, Director of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Program at USIP; Natan Sachs, Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. 9:30 AM, Woodrow Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 5th Floor, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Freedom House will host an event entitled, “Human Rights Responses to Transnational Organized Crime and Trafficking in Persons. The event will feature Mary Greer, Senior Criminal Law Advisor at the ABA Rule of Law Initiative; Ambassador Mark Lagon, Former US Ambassador-at-Large and Former Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Charles Davidson, Executive Director at the Kleptocracy Initiative; Mike Jobbins, Director of Global Affairs at Search for Common Ground. 9:00 AM, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, 1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 570, Washington, D.C. 

The United States Institute of Peace will hold an event entitledm “Fragile States: From the Sahel to Lake Chad to Burma.” The event will feature Madeline Rose, Senior Policy Advisor at Mercy Corps; Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Executive Director at International Civil Society Action Network; Vivian Lowery Derryck, President and CEO at The Bridges Institute; Beth Cole, Special Advisor on Violent Extremism, Conflict and Fragility at USIP; Patricia Taft, Programs Director at Fund for Peace. 9:30 AM, USIP, 2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

The American Society for International Law (ASIL) will host a webcast entitled, “US International Law Obligations Towards Refugees.” The webcast will feature Alex Aleinikoff, Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility; Sam Witten, counsel at Arnold & Porter Kay Scholer LLP; Jane Stromseth, professor of law at Georgetown University. 11:30 AM, livestreamed here.

The Institute of World Politics will hold a lecture on “Safety in Tradition: Homeschooling’s Unexpected Rise in Post-Soviet Russia.” The lecture will feature Lauren Lee Mitchell, Global Outreach Coordinator for Home School Legal Defense Association. 4:00 PM, The Institute of World Politics, 1521 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

CSIS will hold an event entitled, “Meeting Security Challenges in a Disordered World.” 9:00 AM, CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on the “Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization and the President’s FY 2018 Budget Request.” 10:00 AM, 210 HVC Capitol.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum will hold their First Person 2017 Series: Jill Pauly, Conversation with a Holocaust Survivor. 11:00 AM, USHMM, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Georgetown University will host an event entitled, “Polarized America: Origins and Remedies.” 9:00 AM, McCourt School of Public Policy, 149 Old N Way, Washington, D.C.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum will hold their First Person 2017 Series: Kurt Pauly, Conversation with a Holocaust Survivor. 11:00 AM, USHMM, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington, D.C.

The Heritage Foundation will hold an event entitled, “Populism and the Future of Democracy.” The event will feature Roger Kimball, Editor and Publisher of “The New Criterion” and President and Publisher of Encounter Books. 12:00 PM, The Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The House Committee on Appropriations will hold a hearing entitled, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement & Customs and Border Protection in the FY18 Budget Request.” The hearing will feature testimony from Thomas Homan, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Todd Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection; Carla Provost, Acting Chief of United States Border Patrol. 8:00 AM, Rayburn House Office Building, 2008.


Published on June 5, 2017


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