HUMAN RIGHTS ON CAPITOL HILL
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In Case You Missed It
june 2022 NEWSLETTER
FEATURED: End Gun Violence
As the tragedies in Ulvade, Texas and Buffalo, New York and too many other communities underscore, gun violence in the United States is a human rights crisis. The impact of firearm violence extends far beyond the numbers of those injured and killed, traumatizing entire communities and the country as a whole. We stand with victims’ families and with survivors, and join our partners in the gun violence prevention community in demanding action.
The human right to live free from violence, discrimination, and fear must no longer be ignored by Congress. Amnesty International urges lawmakers to enact comprehensive, common sense, human rights-based gun safety legislation without further delay, including:
- Supporting implementation and sustained funding of evidence-based violence reduction and prevention programs, including by passing the Break the Cycle of Violence Act (H.R.4118, S.2275) and ensuring at least $5 billion over eight years for community gun violence prevention programs.
- Passing the Background Check Expansion Act (S.529) as adopted in the House and requiring background checks on all firearm purchases and transfers.
- Passing Ethan’s Law (H.R.748, S.190) requiring the safe storage of all guns and ammunition.
- Banning the sale, transfer, and possession of semi-automatic assault rifles, semi-automatic shotguns, and semi-automatic submachine guns, as well as large capacity magazines, bump stocks, and other dangerous devices.
- Mandating that firearms may only be obtained for purchase or transfer with a valid firearms license and a credible justification for ownership and use.
- Requiring the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to register all firearms in a central national gun registry.
- Prohibiting the carrying of firearms in public, whether open or concealed, unless there is a credible justification for doing so.
- Requiring all lost and stolen firearms to be immediately reported to local law enforcement officials.
- Recognizing that firearm violence is a public health crisis and allocating adequate funding to conduct evidence-based research on the causes and effects of gun violence, and to research and develop viable strategies for gun violence prevention.
Read Amnesty International USA’s report “In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the U.S. Gun Violence Crisis” for our full list of recommendations.
U.S. CONTINUES TO FAIL INDIGENOUS WOMEN AS RATES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN TRIBAL COMMUNITIES REMAIN AT EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS
On May 17, an Amnesty International report shows the U.S. government is continuing to fail its obligations to uphold the human rights of Indigenous women, as rates of sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women are at epidemic proportions. “The Never-ending Maze: Continued failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA” reveals that the U.S. government’s steady erosion of tribal government authority, chronic under-resourcing of law enforcement and Indigenous health services, and purposefully complex jurisdictional process have compounded rates of sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and made it near-impossible for survivors to obtain justice.
Amnesty International USA calls on the U.S. government to take the necessary steps to end sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women, including by fully restoring tribal jurisdiction over crimes committed in Indian country and increasing federal funding to ensure that prosecution and judicial practices deliver justice. The U.S. government must also ensure that tribal communities have adequate funding and resources for law enforcement, health services, and data collection on sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women.
U.S. OFFICIALS MUST LIFT TITLE 42 WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY, DIVEST FROM ICE
Amid a district court blocking the Biden administration’s plan to terminate Title 42, Amnesty is dismayed at the continuation of this policy that violates the human right to seek asylum. Amnesty continues to urge members of Congress to reject all legislative efforts to extend Title 42 beyond May 23. Lawmakers should not align themselves with a policy like Title 42 that subverts U.S. and international law and punishes Black, Brown, Indigenous, and LGBT people in search of safety.
As Congress moves forward on drafting appropriations for FY23, Amnesty and the Defund Hate network call on Congress to boldly reduce DHS funding for immigration detention and enforcement. We also caution against any increases in funding for so-called “alternatives to detention,” which are dangerous e-carceration and surveillance programs that still harm, criminalize, and restrict people seeking safety and have not resulted in fewer people detained. Immigrants and asylum-seekers have the support of sponsors and community-based nonprofits and should be permitted to navigate asylum claims and the immigration process without detention and surveillance.
Security with Human Rights
CONGRESS MUST ACT TO PROTECT CIVILIANS IN MILITARY OPERATIONS
Amnesty welcomes the introduction of the Protection of Civilians in Military Operations Act (H.R.7625, S.4108) and the Department of Defense Civilian Harm Transparency Act (H.R. 7621, S.4107) by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Reps. Sarah Jacobs (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ). As highlighted in a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times investigation, which followed Amnesty’s groundbreaking reports on civilian casualties in Syria, Iraq, and Somalia, thousands of civilians have been killed by U.S.-led forces in recent years, receiving neither acknowledgment nor compensation from the U.S. government. We urge members of Congress to support these two bills designed to improve how the U.S. military protects civilians and responds when civilians are harmed by U.S. actions, both to prevent further harm and to help civilians whose lives have already been devastated.
A May 31 Amnesty report, “Bullets rained from the sky”: War crimes and displacement in Eastern Myanmar,” documents post-coup war crimes committed by the Myanmar military in Kayin and Kayah States. More than 150,000 individuals have been forcibly displaced as a result of military operations. Amnesty urges the international community, including the U.S. government, to call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained, to demand that the military end ongoing human rights violations, and to push the UN Security Council for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. Please contact Carolyn Nash at [email protected] for a briefing with the report’s authors.
A year after after state of siege was proclaimed in North-Kivu and Ituri provinces in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”), a May 10 Amnesty report details how military and police authorities have used sweeping powers to silence individuals deemed critical of the state of siege. “Justice and freedoms under siege in North Kivu and Ituri” reveals the authorities are using military courts to prosecute dissenters, including members of parliament, pro-democracy activists, and human rights defenders, in unfair trials. Amnesty International USA urges members of Congress to speak out publicly against the risk of the state of siege becoming a permanent regime in the eastern DRC, and urge President Félix Tshisekedi to revoke all powers granted to military courts to try civilians and to set a clear exit plan from the state of siege.
In a new report released on May 18, Amnesty International calls on the UN Security Council to renew the arms embargo on South Sudan. “‘If you don’t cooperate, I’ll gun you down’: Conflict-related sexual violence and impunity in South Sudan” reveals ongoing conflict-related sexual violence (“CRSV”), and detailed the role of guns in facilitating sexual violence. The report notes South Sudanese authorities have yet to fully implement a 2021 action plan to address CRSV, one of five benchmarks against which the UN Security Council would review any change to the embargo.
in case you missed it
virtual lobby day
On May 18, Amnesty activists across the U.S. met virtually with the offices of members of Congress and asked them to fund community-led solutions to end gun violence and pass an Afghan Adjustment Act that would provide a roadmap to permanent status for Afghans currently in the U.S.