Washington Week on Human Rights: May 5, 2014
International Human Rights, Inside the Beltway
UKRAINE During a hearing on Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will examine Russia’s role in the destabilization of Ukraine. The hearing comes as a new special forces unit has been drafted in Odessa, Ukraine, where violent attacks over the weekend claimed dozens of lives. Last week, President Obama said that new sweeping new economic sanctions would be imposed on Russia if its actions in eastern Ukraine disrupt the country’s upcoming presidential elections. He noted that the sanctions would likely target the energy, arms and finance sectors.
NIGERIA Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says he plans to sell, for as little as $12, 223 girls recently kidnapped from a Nigerian school. The United States is providing intelligence, diplomatic and military support to the Nigerian government as it attempts to find and rescue the girls. This development comes as Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Sarah Sewell and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski embark on a trip to Indonesia, Burma and Nigeria from May 5-14. They will meet with government officials, civil society representatives, and other key stakeholders to discuss a wide range of issues, including key human rights concerns such as human trafficking, ethnic and sectarian conflict, justice and accountability.
DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION MARK-UP On Wednesday, the House Armed Service Committee will begin its mark-up of the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate will begin its mark-up at the end of the month. Among the key human rights issues that we’re following during the mark-up are possible new transfer restrictions on Guantanamo detainees, targeted killing policies, and war authorization language.
Quote of the Week
“The best tool to fight extremism is education, especially of girls — and that means ensuring that it is safe to study. The greatest threat to militancy in the long run comes not from drones but from girls with schoolbooks.”
New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof in his column on the Nigerian girls’ kidnapping
A Washington Post editorial criticized the Obama Administration for abetting further chaos in Egypt by releasing some military aid, applauding a move made last week by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to put a hold on funding got Egypt until “we see convincing evidence that the government is committed to the rule of law.” Read more about Egypt.
U.S. News & World Report’sTierney Sneed reported that celebrities are boycotting hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei following the country’s adoption of a new penal code last week which makes same-sex acts punishable by death by stoning. Read more about LGBT rights.
AFP Newslook investigates Guantanamo Bay, taking a hard look at how detainees have been treated and why the prison remains open 12 years later. The program features an interview with Major General Michael Lenhert, the commander who stood up the detention facility in the aftermath of 9/11. He now advocates for the facility’s closure, calling it a “blight on our history.” Read more about Guantanamo.
Al Jazeera America’s “America Tonight” examines how the oil drilling boom in North Dakota has resulted in an increase in the human trafficking of women.
On the Hill
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a full committee hearing on “Ukraine – Countering Russian Intervention and Supporting a Democratic State.” Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland; Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet; Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing Daniel Glaser; and Angela Stent, director of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service’s Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, will testify. 3PM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
The House Armed Services Committee will mark-up the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act. 10AM, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building
The House Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “FY2015 Budget Hearing – United States Assistance to Combat Transnational Crime. Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; and Luis CdeBaca, ambassador-at-large for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, will testify.
11:30AM, 2362-A Rayburn House Office Building
Thursday, May 8, 2014
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Russia’s Destabilization of Ukraine.” The Honorable Victoria Nuland; Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; and The Honorable Daniel Glaser, Assistant Secretary Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence U.S. Department of the Treasury will testify. 10AM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building
Monday May 5, 2014
National Journal will host a webcast on “The Politics of 2014’s Midterm Elections.” The discussion will feature David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama; Mike Murphy, political analyst and partner in the Revolution Agency; Josh Kraushaar, political editor for National Journal; Amy Walter, national editor of “The Cook Political Report”; and Norm Ornstein, contributing editor and columnist for National Journal. 2:30PM, view here.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The Heritage Foundation will hold a discussion on “NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and the Future of U.S. National Security.” The event will feature House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif.; and James Jay Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at Heritage. 12PM, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Lehrman Auditorium, Washington, D.C.
The Institute of World Politics will present Strategic Challenges and Engagement in Africa Today. The event will feature Christopher Runyan, Former Director for African Affairs, National Security Staff, The White House. 5:30PM, The Institute of World Politics, 1521 16th Street NW
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) will host a discussion on “The Future of the Syrian Revolution.” The event will feature Ahmad Jarba, president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces; and William Taylor, vice president of USIP.
11AM, USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) will host a discussion on “Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) People and People Living with HIV.” The event will feature Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Angelica Chazaro, visiting professor at the University of Washington School of Law; Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality; Chris Daley, deputy executive director of Just Detention International; Catherine Hanssens, executive director and founder of the Center for HIV Law & Policy; Andrea Ritchie, co-coordinator at Streetwise & Safe; Aisha Moodie-Mills, director of the Fighting Injustice to Reach Equality Initiative at CAP; and Dean Spade, associate professor at the Seattle University School of Law. 12PM, CAP, 1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor, Washington, D.C.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host a discussion on “Sustaining the U.S. Lead in DoD Unmanned Systems.” CSIS’s recent report, Sustaining the U.S. Lead in Unmanned Systems: Military and Homeland Considerations Through 2025, found that the current U.S. military lead in unmanned systems will be contested in the coming decades as other countries develop or acquire their own capabilities (including through significantly increased commercial sector activity) and Pentagon investment in current and next-generation unmanned systems decreases under budget pressure. With the release of the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Fiscal Year 2015 Presidential Budget Request reflecting updated DoD priorities, CSIS will host a discussion on the future of U.S. leadership in military development and use of unmanned systems. 10AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Second Floor Conference Center, Washington, D.C.
Friday, May 9, 2014
The Better World Campaign will host a lunch briefing with Americans Serving in UN Peacekeeping Operations. The event is cosponsored with Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Congressman David Cicilline. It will feature introductory remarks by Col. Thomas Moffatt, Commander of the U.S. Military Observer Group – Washington. 12:30PM, Rayburn 2255