Washington Week on Human Rights: March 9, 2015

Top News

WAR AUTHORIZATION On Wednesday morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the president’s request for Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey will testify. Human Rights First has called for a narrowly tailored AUMF that would sunset the 2001 AUMF. That call has been echoed by a nonpartisan group of top national security lawyers who last year signed a statement of principles designed to guide Congress as it considers the president’s AUMF request. Several members of this group have since provided further guidance to Congress on the administration’s draft bill.

TRAFFICKING This week, the Senate will take up the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, legislation introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to enhance current efforts to disrupt the business of human trafficking. Improvements to victim restitution and law enforcement reporting, increased victim empowerment in the context of criminal procedures, and further funding and implementation of law enforcement training are the bill’s cornerstones. The Senate is also expected to take up the End Modern Day Slavery Initiative Act, a bill introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). That legislation would create a $1.5 billion fund to bolster law enforcement in targeted geographic areas with the goal of reducing the incidence of modern slavery. Human Rights First has partnered with prominent leaders from the business and financial sectors, law enforcement, the military, federal, state, and local government, and the civil rights community to launch a major public education and advocacy effort to disrupt the business of human trafficking. The group of ambassadors is co-chaired by former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps General Charles C. Krulak (ret.) and former Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Louis J. Freeh. Human Rights First has also 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.

CELEBRATING COURAGEOUS WOMEN Yesterday was International Women’s Day, an occasion marked by activities around the world highlighting individuals working to protect and advance the rights of women. Human Rights First celebrated International Women’s Day by highlighting pro bono attorneys who work to protect the rights of women and children seeking asylum in the U.S., as well as the courageous journeys of those who travel to the United States to seek protection from persecution or violence. Read Lisa’s Story How to Disrupt the Business of Human Trafficking here and hear the stories of other women asylum seekers by listening to Human Rights First’s Refugee Voices series.

Quote of the Week

“What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals”

—President Obama’s Remarks at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches

We’re Reading

USA Today reported on the passage several bills in the House Judiciary Committee that would make it more difficult for refugees and unaccompanied minors to seek protection in the United States. Learn more here.

​PBS’s Mediashift investigated the battle to counter violent extremism online, noting the need for the Obama Administration to amplify voices of peace and condemn repressive governments in the Middle East region.

Christian Science Monitor reported on the brutality of the Saudi regime, one of the United States’ key allies in the fight against violent extremism. Human Rights First will release a new policy blueprint this week, detailing steps the U.S. government can take to build a more sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with Saudi Arabia.

We’re Listening

San Francisco’s KALW Public Radio gave listeners an inside look at immigration detention through the eyes of refugees imprisoned at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond

On the Hill

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “The President’s Request for Authorization to Use Force Against ISIS: Military and Diplomatic Efforts.” Secretary of State John Kerry; Defense Secretary Ashton Carter; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey will testify. 9:30AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing on protecting religious freedom abroad. 2PM, 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Visa Waiver Program: Implications for U.S. National Security.” 10AM, 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Around Town

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will hold a discussion on the Middle East featuring Stephen Hadley, former U.S. assistant to the president for national security affairs, and Shirin Tahir-Kheli, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute. 1PM, SAIS, Nitze Building, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will host a discussion on “Combating Terrorism: Looking Over the Horizon.” The event will feature Undersecretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall. 12:30PM, SAIS, Rome Building, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) and American Action Forum (AAF) will hold a discussion on “Will We Confront the Growing Security Threats?” The event will feature Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Rachel Hoff, director of defense analysis at AAF; and Eric Edelman, member of FPI. 12PM, SVC-203/02, U.S. Capitol

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) will host a discussion on “Assessing the United Nations at Seventy,” focusing on “the complex global challenges it faces, U.S. policies towards the UN, and the arguments for investment in international organizations.” The event will feature Bathsheba Crocker, assistant secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. 12:30PM, CFR, 1777 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The Newseum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center, the Pulitzer Center and the Arcus Foundation will hold a discussion on “Crackdown in the New Russia: LGBT Rights in Russia and Crimea.” The event will feature journalist Nora FitzGerald; photojournalist Misha Friedman; and Dmitry Chizhevsky, a Russian who was a victim of anti-LGBT violence in St. Petersburg. 7PM, The Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Knight Conference Center, Washington, D.C.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion on “America’s Role in the World,” as part of the Strategy Initiative launch. The event will feature retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones Jr., founder of Jones Group International; retired Air Force Gen. Brent Scowcroft, president and founder of The Scowcroft Group; Stephen Hadley, principal and co-founder of RiceHadleyGates LLC; James Miller, president of Adaptive Strategies LLC; Stephen Biegun, vice president of international government affairs at the Ford Motor Company; Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council; and former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., R-Utah, chairman of the Atlantic Council. 9:30AM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.


Published on March 9, 2015


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