Washington Week on Human Rights: October 19, 2015

Top News

Antisemitism Tomorrow Senator Ben Cardin and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance will host a conversation on Combating Anti-Semitism in Europe. The event will feature Susan Corke, Director of Countering Antisemitism and Extremism, Human Rights First; Jane Braden-Golay, President of the European Union of Jewish Students; Siavosh Derakhti, Founder and Director of Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia (Sweden); and Niddal El-Jabri, Organizer of the Copenhagen Ring of Peace (Denmark). Braden-Golay, Derakhti, and El-Jabri are in the United States to receive Human Rights First’s 2015 Human Rights Award during a Wednesday evening dinner in New York City. The three activists are being recognized for their courage, determination, and innovation in combating religious intolerance and the rise of antisemitism in Europe. While in the United States, they will also meet with administration officials, lawmakers, media, and others to discuss surging antisemitism across Europe stoked by ascendant far-right parties and violent extremists trying to lay claim to Islam. The rise of far-right, neo-Nazi extremist parties in Hungary and Greece was examined in Human Rights First’s report, “We’re not Nazis, but…The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care.”

Immigration Detention This Thursday is the Obama Administration’s deadline to demonstrate its compliance with a July federal court ruling that required children held in U.S. immigration detention facilities to be released without unnecessary delay to a family member in order of preference beginning with parents, including the accompanying parent who was detained with the child. The ruling stated that accompanying parents “shall be released with the [child] in a non-discriminatory manner in accordance with applicable laws and regulations unless after an individualized custody determination the parent is determined to pose a significant flight risk, or a threat to others or the national security, and the flight risk or threat cannot be mitigated by an appropriate bond or conditions of release.” Tomorrow, Human Rights First will release a report based on recent visits to family detention centers that finds that immigration detention, even for only two weeks, harms women and children’s mental and physical health. It also finds that many thousands more women and children may be subject to detention under the shortened timeline.

GuantanamoThis week, Army Col. James Pohl, the judge presiding over the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military commission proceedings against five men accused of playing key roles in the 9-11 terrorist attacks against the United States, is expected to rule on whether the case can proceed. Judge Pohl halted the proceedings in April 2014 after a lawyer for one of the defendants revealed that the FBI had questioned members of the defense team about a possible breach of security rules. News reports indicate that Col. Pohl is likely to permit the case to move forward. Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley is at the detention facility this week to observe the proceedings. The development comes as President Obama is expected to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, legislation that contains provisions that would make it difficult for the president to fulfill his promise to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by the end of his second term. Human Rights First has urged the administration to veto the bill. There are currently 114 detainees remaining at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. Fifty-three of the remaining detainees are cleared for transfer and another 48 are eligible for Periodic Review Board (PRB) hearings. Human Rights First’s plan to close Guantanamo is outlined in its blueprint How to Close Guantanamo.

Quote of the Week

“We defend religious liberty not just because it’s a moral imperative, but because it improves and will improve the security of people everywhere against violent extremism.”

-Vice President Joe Biden as he accepted the annual Athenagoras Human Rights Award on October 17

We’re Reading

In a piece for the New York Daily News, former interrogator Mark Fallon urged the president to make good on his promise to close Gitmo.

Writing for The Huffington Post, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power shared remarks given in D.C. last week, highlighting the violence and discrimination that LGBT people continue to face in many parts of the world and encouraging the international community to continue to work to advance the universal human rights of LGBT people.

The Daily Sentinel editorial board argued that it is a national security imperative to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The New York Times profiled a Syrian refugee family who has been resettled in Jersey City, New Jersey.

We’re Watching

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin interviewed Syrian-American Nora Barre, who detailed the daily life of her family members who remain in Syria and those who have fled to Turkey as refugees. According to the United Nations, 7.6 million people are currently displaced in Syria and need immediate humanitarian assistance and over 4 million have fled due to conflict and persecution.

On the Hill

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Helsinki Commission will hold a hearing on “Europe’s Refugee Crisis: How Should the US, EU, and OSCE Respond?” The first pane will feature Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, U.S. Department of State. The second panel will feature Mr. Shelly Pitterman, Regional Representative to the United States and Caribbean, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); His Excellency David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States; His Excellency Djerdj Matkovic, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the United States; Mr. Sean Callahan, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Relief Services. 2PM, Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2200

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance will host a conversation on Combating Anti-Semitism in Europe. The event will feature Susan Corke, Director, Antisemitism and Extremism, Human Rights First; Ms. Jane Braden-Golay, President of the European Union of Jewish Students; Mr. Siavosh Derakhti, Founder and Director of Young People Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia (Sweden); and Mr. Niddal El-Jabri, Organizer of the Copenhagen Ring of Peace (Denmark). 2:30PM, SVC- 209, Capitol Visitors Center

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Ongoing Migration from Central America: An Examination of FY2015 Apprehensions.” 9:30AM, 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on “Worldwide Threats and Homeland Security Challenges.” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; FBI Director James Comey; and Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will testify. 10AM, 311 Cannon House Office Building

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus along with Human Rights First and the Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights will host a briefing on Combating Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People: Cuba, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador. Moderated by Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord, the event will feature activists Juana Mora Arco of Iris Libre de Cuba (Cuba); Mariel Ortega of Diversidad Dominicana (Dominican Republic); and Nicole Santamaría of Colectivo Alejandría (El Salvador). 10AM, Cannon HOB 234, Please rsvp to [email protected].

Around Town

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will hold a discussion on “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Balancing Humanitarian and Security Challenges.” The event will feature State Department Deputy Director for Refugee Admissions Kelly Gauger; Larry Yungk, senior resettlement officer at the Washington office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Adnan Kifayat, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund; Lorenzo Vidino, director of the George Washington University’s Center on Cyber and Homeland Security Program on Extremism; Brittney Nystrom, director for advocacy at the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; and Kristin Roberts, national editor at Politico. 11AM, BPC, 1225 I Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host a discussion on “Human Rights Challenges in Europe: The Refugee Crisis and War in Ukraine.” The event will feature Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks; and Shannon Green, director of the CSIS Human Rights Initiative. 11AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Second Floor Conference Room, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The New York University Washington Center will host a discussion on “Regional and Global Perspectives on Impunity for CIA Torture and the Right to Remedies and Reparation.” The event will feature UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez; former Guatemala Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz; Chris Anders, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union; and Fred Morris, Methodist pastor and torture survivor. 12PM, NYU Washington Center, 1307 L Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The McCain Institute will host a discussion on “Should U.S. Foreign Assistance Be Tied to Human Rights?” 5:30PM, Navy Memorial Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

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Published on October 19, 2015


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