Washington Week on Human Rights: November 3, 2014
TORTURE The United Nations Committee Against Torture kicked off its November session today and will review steps taken by countries to prevent torture and punish those who use it. The United States is one of eight nations that will appear before the committee in Geneva to describe its efforts to fulfill America’s obligation to comply with the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Obama Administration is now making its final decision on how it interprets the treaty. The George W. Bush Administration interpreted the treaty as not applying to CIA and military prisons overseas. That position drew bipartisan ire and was opposed by then-Senator Barack Obama. Former Nobel Peace Prize laureates and retired military officers are among those urging President Obama to make a clean break from the Bush Administration’s interpretation.
BAHRAIN Leading Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was released from jail yesterday and had his trial for allegedly insulting government institutions on Twitter adjourned until January 20, 2015. Rajab’s release comes just days after Bahrain imposed a three-month suspension on the opposition group al Wefaq, which the Kingdom claims failed to comply with rules about holding general meetings. Al Wefaq and other opposition groups intend to boycott Bahrain’s upcoming November 22 elections on the grounds that the process is unfair. The regime has said that outside observers for that vote are not necessary.
UKRAINE Just one week after Ukrainians participated in national elections and cast their votes for candidates who are expected to push the country toward Europe and away from Russia, newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko is urging Russia and other countries around the world not to recognize the results of this past weekend’s competing election organized by rebels in eastern Ukraine. This past weekend’s election threw support behind pro-Russia candidates who support breaking from Ukraine to create an independent state. Russia has continued to provide military support to rebels in the eastern region and has said it will recognize the results of this weekend’s vote. The United States will not.
U.S. ELECTIONS On Tuesday, Americans will go to the polls to participate in mid-term elections. At least 16.4 million ballots have already been cast in person or by mail. If your vote is not among them, don’t forget to head to the polls.
Quote of the Week
“In the interest of U.S national security—and your own legacy on torture—you must stand by this position. There is no room for legal or moral ambiguity on torture. This issue should not be dismissed as a technicality, because the devil of official cruelty is often in the details of legal interpretation. “The trip to the “dark side” after 9/11 tarnished America’s reputation. Next month in Geneva you have a chance to reassert U.S. global leadership on torture. We urge you to do exactly that.”
A letter to President Obama from General Joseph P. Hoar, USMC (Ret.) and General Charles C. Krulak, USMC (Ret.)
In The New York Times, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Kati Marton raised alarm over the increasing authoritarianism of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose consolidation of constitutional powers has threatened the country’s democracy, as well as the rights of minorities, including Roma and Jews. For more information, see Human Rights First’s recent report, “We’re Not Nazis, but… The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care.”
The Associated Press and Agence France Press reported that a Bahrain court has banned the prominent opposition group al Wefaq, whose members plan to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections in protest. In recent months, the Bahraini regime has ramped up its targeting of human rights defenders and opposition groups despite international pressure to drop politically motivated charges against activists.
AFP’s Joanna Biddle writes about the extraordinary courage of 2014 Human Rights First Award winner Ryan Boyette as his team from Nuba Reports risks their lives to make sure the brutality of the Sudanese regime is recorded.
Some of the nation’s leading pollsters appeared on Meet the Press to discuss their predictions for this Tuesday’s election and what it will mean for Congress and the Obama Administration.
Monday, November 3, 2014
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) will hold a discussion on “From Hizbullah to the Islamic State.” The event will feature Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut; Joseph Bahout, visiting scholar in the Middle East Program at CEIP; and Frederic Wehrey, senior associate in the Middle East Program at CEIP. 3PM, CEIP, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
The George Washington University (GWU) Elliott School of International Affairs will host a discussion on “The U.S.-Africa Summit – Next Steps.” The event will feature Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield; and George Moose, adjunct professor of international affairs at GWU. 5:30PM, GWU Elliott School, 1957 E Street NW, Lindner Family Commons, Room 602, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
ELECTION DAY – Don’t forget to vote!
The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies’ (SAIS) Protection Project will hold its ninth annual symposium on “Sharing Best and Promising Practices on Combating Trafficking in Persons.” 9AM, SAIS, Nitze Building, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Kenney Auditorium, Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold a discussion on “A Path Forward: What’s Next for the Divided States of America,” focusing on the results of the midterm elections and the future of the Senate. The event will feature former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., co-founder of BPC; and former Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., senior fellow at BPC. 11AM, BPC, 1225 I Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
The National Press Club Newsmaker Program will host a news conference on “Tuesday’s Latino Vote: Implications for Immigration and 2016 Elections.” The event will feature Daniel Garza, LIBRE executive director; and Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist. 10AM, National Press Club, 14th and F Streets NW, Bloomberg Room, Washington, D.C.
The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion on “The Islamic State and Beyond: U.S. Military Strategy in the Middle East.” The event will feature Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command; and Jake Tapper, anchor of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” 11AM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.