Washington Week on Human Rights: October 6, 2014

Top News

IMMIGRATION DETENTION ABUSE CLAIMS Several women detained at the Karnes County Residential Center, an immigration detention facility in southern Texas, say workers have sexually abused them. The facility, which can house up to 532 people, is operated by Geo Group Inc. and currently houses adults and children. Last week, Human Rights First and several other advocacy organizations signed a letter organized by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) that was sent to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security. According to reports from detainees, workers have allegedly taken mothers from their cells in the middle of the night to engage in sexual acts and have groped women in front of children. An ICE spokesperson said that the department has a zero tolerance for all forms of sexual abuse or assault and that the accusations will be investigated.

BAHRAIN Leading human rights activist Maryam Al Khawaja is now allowed to leave Bahrain, though she continues to face politically-motivated charges of assaulting police officers at the airport when she arrived in the Kingdom last month, which she denies. Maryam was released from detention on September 18 and her trial has been adjourned until November 5. Meanwhile, last week, Bahrain Center for Human Rights President Nabeel Rajab was questioned and detained for insulting an official institution on Twitter. The arrest came as Rajab was returning to Bahrain after speaking at the United Nations in Geneva.

U.S. ALLIES IN FIGHT AGAINST ISIS On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a call from Vice President Joe Biden, who phoned to “clarify comments” he made at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government saying that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates had assisted foreign fighters in Syria that included ISIS extremists. Those three nations are among the coalition of 40 countries the United States has organized to eradicate ISIS. The coalition includes several nations whom the administration has challenged on human rights abuses in the past. In his Thursday remarks, Biden said “our biggest problem is our allies” who “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against (Syrian President Bashar) Assad – except that the people who were being supplied were (Jabhat) al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Quote of the Week

“Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment are illegal, ineffective, counterproductive, and immoral. These we reject unconditionally.”

-October 1 Statement from National Security, Intelligence, and Interrogation Professionals

We’re Reading

Former CIA interrogator Glenn Carle authored a piece for The Boston Globe about the inefficacy of torture, writing, “I had direct experience in every aspect of interrogation and intelligence in the so-called ‘war on terror’ … Let me be clear about what I learned: Torture undermines all sound principles of good interrogation, intelligence collection, and assessment.” Carle was one of the dozen former intelligence officers who last week signed on to a statement of principles affirming that torture is illegal, immoral, ineffective, and counterproductive.

The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reported on the Pentagon’s decision not to transfer detainees from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay. For more information, read about Human Rights First’s efforts to close Guantanamo. As reported by Agence France Press, this week the Bahraini government lifted the travel ban on prominent human rights activist Maryam Al Khawaja, while on the same day authorities detained Bahrain Center for Human Rights President Nabeel Rajab over tweets deemed offensive to the Ministry of Interior. Read more about the Bahraini government’s targeting of civil society here

We’re Watching

Four former White House Chiefs of Staff spanning the Reagan Administration to the current administration appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss how they would advise President Obama on a series of topics, including foreign policy and national security issues.

Around Town

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s (WWC) Global Europe Program will hold a discussion on “Hearing of the European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.” The event will feature Antoine Ripoll, director of the European Parliament Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress; Nicola Casarini, fellow at the Istituto Affari Internazionali; Jeffrey Anderson, director of the BMW Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University; and Wendela Moore, director of the Bureau of EU and Regional Affairs at the State Department. 12PM, WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Fourth Floor, Washington, D.C.

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s (WWC) Middle East Program will host a discussion on “The History of the Future of Syria.” The event will feature Christian Sahner, author of “Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present.” 12PM, WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C.

The Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies will hold a discussion on “Russia and U.S.: Is a Real Partnership still Possible?” The event will feature former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov; and Jill Dougherty, public policy scholar at WWC and former foreign affairs correspondent at CNN. 1:30PM, WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Sixth Floor, Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host a discussion on “Latin America and the U.S. Midterms,” focusing on Hispanic perceptions of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and domestic voting behavior. The event will feature Luis Miranda, managing director at MDC Strategies and former Hispanic media director at the White House; Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post writer; Gustavor Arnavat, senior adviser at CSIS; Daniel Runde, director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS; and Carl Meacham, director of the Americas Program at CSIS. 10AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

The Cato Institute will host a discussion on “War without Debate: The Constitution, Intervention, and the Strikes against ISIS.” The event will feature Gene Healy, vice president of Cato; Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at Cato; and John Maniscalco, director of congressional affairs at Cato. 12PM, 121 Cannon House Office Building.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will hold a discussion on “The Outlook for the G20 Brisbane Summit.” 9AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Second Floor Conference Room, Washington, D.C.

Thursday October 9, 2014

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s (WWC) Global Europe Program will hold a discussion on “ISIS and the End of the Middle East as We Know It.” The event will feature Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs; and Robert Litwak, director of international security studies at WWC. 12:30PM, WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C.


Published on October 6, 2014


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