Human Rights on Capitol Hill Newsletter – late September edition (9/25/19)

For PDF version click here: Human Rights on Capitol Hill late September

Human Rights on Capitol Hill

published by Amnesty International USA

 September 25, 2019

 In this edition of Human Rights on Capitol Hill:

1) This Month’s Feature

U.S.-Mexico Border:  Trump Administration’s Relentless Assault on Asylum Seekers at the U.S. Border Results in Asylum Ban 2.0 and Unsafe Agreement with El Salvador

2) Major Human Rights News

a) National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) – Amnesty International USA Urges Conferees to Include Human Rights Amendments in Final Bill

b) Myanmar – Amnesty International USA Urges Senate to Include the Burma Act as Part of NDAA

c) State Department – Amnesty International USA Urges Senate to Reject Nomination of Marshall Billingslea to Undersecretary for Civilian Security

d) Ukraine – Amnesty International USA Briefing Presses for Accountability on Human Rights

e) Gun Violence – Amnesty International USA Calls on Congress to Pass Assault Weapons Ban

f) Climate Crisis – Amnesty International Presents Ambassador of Conscience Award to Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future Movement

g) U.S./Mexico Border – Following Southwest Border Visit, AIUSA Testifies Before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR”)

h) Muslim Ban – AIUSA Calls on Congress to Pass Legislation Countering the Administration’s Discriminatory Policies

i) Yemen – Following UN Human Rights Report, AIUSA Calls on Congress to Immediately Halt Arms Sales to Saudi-Emirati Coalition

j) Hong Kong – AIUSA Urges House Foreign Affairs Committee to Approve Hong Kong Protect Act (R. 4270)

 

3) What’s Coming Down the Pike?

September 26

Saudi Arabia:  9 am. Amnesty International USA will co-sponsor event marking the one-year anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, Dirksen G-11. Amnesty’s Philippe Nassif, Senators Menendez, Kaine, Murphy, Van Hollen and Representatives Connolly, Malinowski, McGovern, Phillips and Speier will speak.

Venezuela:  12 noon. Amnesty International briefing, “The Human Rights Crisis in Venezuela: Protecting People Forced to Flee” featuring Amnesty Venezuela Director Marcos Gomez, Hart 512. Lunch will be provided.

U.S.-Mexico border:  2 pm. Briefing co-sponsored by Amnesty International USA featuring Amnesty’s Charanya Krishnaswami, “Lives in Danger, Justice Denied: Asylum Seekers at the U.S.-Mexico Border,” CVC H-8. Lunch will be provided

October 8

Climate displacement:  12:30 pm: Amnesty International USA briefing “Climate Crisis and Displacement,” Russell 325. Boxed lunches will be served. RSVP here.

 

4) Full Late September Newsletter

 

5) Connect With Us

 

 

1) This Month’s Feature

Trump Administration’s Relentless Assault on Asylum Seekers at the U.S. Border Results in Asylum Ban 2.0 and Unsafe Agreement with El Salvador. On September 12, the Supreme Court allowed President Trump’s asylum ban 2.0 to temporarily proceed. This decision could be a death sentence for people seeking safety and protection. In late September an Amnesty International USA delegation traveled to south Texas to visit the secretive port courts that have been built for assembly-line asylum proceedings.

On September 20, Amnesty International USA condemned the agreement with El Salvador that would require Central American asylum seekers traveling through El Salvador to seek refuge there instead of in the U.S. Amnesty International has declared El Salvador to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.

In mid-October, Amnesty International USA will be sending a high-level delegation to south Texas to examine access to asylum at the border.

 

2) Major Human Rights News

a) National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) – Amnesty International USA Urges Conferees to Include Human Rights Amendments in Final Bill. NDAA conferees should ensure that human rights amendments and provisions are included in the final NDAA package, including amendments designed to reduce gun violence, to cut off support for the Saudi-Emirati coalition, to end human rights abuses in Myanmar, and to support women in Afghanistan.

b) Myanmar – Amnesty International USA Urges Senate to Include Burma Act as Part of the NDAA. On September 24, the House passed the Burma Act (R. 3190). Amnesty International USA urges the Senate to pass the Burma Act as part of the NDAA. Myanmar authorities continue to act with impunity against civilians in Rakhine State including arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances – many of which constitute war crimes.

c) State Department – Amnesty International USA Calls on Senate to Reject Nomination of Marshall Billingslea to Undersecretary for Civilian Security. Amnesty International USA strongly opposes the nomination of Billingslea to the most senior position in the State Department charged with advocating for human rights. Billingslea previously supported the use of torture by the Bush administration. Amnesty International USA joined a coalition of human rights and government organizations urging Senators to oppose the nomination.

d) Ukraine – Amnesty International USA Briefing Presses for Accountability on Human Rights. On September 18, Amnesty International USA organized a briefing on U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine. Amnesty International is pressing Ukrainian authorities to end impunity for extremist violence and protect embattled human rights defenders and activists.

Above: On September 18, Amnesty International USA and the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus co-hosted a briefing on U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine.

Above: Rep. Fitzpatrick (R-PA) was one of three Members of Congress who spoke at AIUSA’s briefing on Ukraine.

Ukrainian Filmmaker Oleh Sentsov Is Freed. On September 7, Ukrainian authorities released filmmaker Oleh Sentsov and dozens of other detainees. Amnesty International has campaigned for their freedom after they were detained on charges stemming from their opposition to Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Amnesty International USA worked with Representative Marcy Kaptur to advocate for Oleh Sentsov as part of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project. Amnesty International USA calls on all Members of Congress to advocate for Ukrainian human rights defenders including members of the Crimean Tatar community who remain unjustly imprisoned in the Russian Federation.

e) Gun Violence – Amnesty International USA Calls on Congress to Pass Assault Weapons Ban. In a statement for the September 25 House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Protecting America from Assault Weapons,” Amnesty International USA urged Congress to pass the Assault Weapons Ban Act (R. 1296). The horrific mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton and Odessa highlight the dangers posed by assault weapons and high capacity magazines that can kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds.

AIUSA also urges the House to swiftly pass the Keep Americans Safe Act (H.R.1186), Extreme Risk Protection Orders Act (H.R. 1236), and Disarm Hate Act (H.R. 2708).

f) Climate Crisis – Amnesty International Presents Ambassador of Conscience Award to Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future Movement. On September 16, Amnesty International presented its highest honor to Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement to recognize their efforts to raise awareness on the climate crisis. The Ambassador of Conscience award celebrates people who have shown unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights. On September 20, Amnesty International joined millions of people in 150 countries to participate in climate strikes to demand that governments phase out fossil fuels and get to carbon neutral before 2050. Amnesty International USA also sent a letter to the U.S. delegation to the UN Climate Action Summit held on September 23, urging the Trump administration to acknowledge the climate crisis and put a plan in place to stop it.

Above: On September 16, Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo presented the Ambassador of Conscience Award to Greta Thunberg for her global work fighting against the climate crisis.

Above: Fridays for Future leaders spoke at the Ambassador of Conscience award ceremony.

Above: On September 20, Amnesty International USA joined millions of people around the world to participate in climate strikes.

g) U.S./Mexico Border – Following Southwest Border Visit, AIUSA Testifies Before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR”). On September 24, Amnesty’s Americas Advocacy Director Charanya Krishnaswami testified at an IACHR hearing about limitations on access to asylum and refugee protection in the U.S. In late September, an Amnesty International delegation visited south Texas to observe “Remain in Mexico” proceedings in secretive new port courts that have been built in Brownsville and Laredo. Amnesty’s statement to the Commission focused on threats to asylum at the border, including a near-total ban on asylum, which the Supreme Court recently greenlighted; safe-third country arrangements with Central American countries; the “Remain in Mexico” program; and metering.

h) Muslim Ban – AIUSA Calls on Congress to Pass Legislation Countering the Administration’s Discriminatory Policies. On September 24, the House Judiciary and House Foreign Affairs Committees held a joint hearing on oversight of President Trump’s Muslim ban. AIUSA’sstatementdescribes how the administration’s policies targeting refugees from Muslim-majority countries have decimated refugee resettlement. AIUSA urges Congress to push the Administration to commit to resettling 95,000 refugees in the Presidential Determination for FY 2020, and to pass the No Ban Act (R. 2214) and the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement Act (the GRACE Act, H.R. 2146/S. 1088)

i) Yemen – Following UN Human Rights Report, AIUSA Calls on Congress to Immediately Halt Arms Sales to Saudi-Emirati Coalition. Amnesty’s Mid East Advocacy Director Philippe Nassif and Yemen researcher Rasha Mohammed co-authored an op-ed discussing the recent UN Human Rights Council report on the dire conditions in Yemen. The U.S. has knowingly supplied the Saudi-Emirati coalition with weapons, which the coalition has used to conduct human rights abuses in Yemen in violation of international law. AIUSA urges Congress to immediately halt arms sales to the Saudi-Emirati coalition in order to end the suffering of Yemeni civilians.

j) Hong Kong – AIUSA Urges House Foreign Affairs Committee to Approve Hong Kong Protect Act (R. 4270). In late September, Amnesty International released a new report on the Hong Kong government’s increased restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. AIUSA urges the House to approve legislation that would suspend the export of crowd control equipment, which Hong Kong police have used with excessive force on peaceful protesters.

 

3) What’s Coming Down the Pike?

September 26

Saudi Arabia:  9 a.m., Dirksen G-11, AIUSA will co-host an event marking the one-year anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Amnesty’s Philippe Nassif, Senators Menendez, Kaine, Murphy, Van Hollen and Representatives Connolly, Malinowski, McGovern, Phillips and Speier will speak.

Venezuela: 12 noon, Hart 512, Amnesty will host a briefing, “The Human Rights Crisis in Venezuela: Protecting People Forced to Flee.” The panel will feature Marcos Gomez, Executive Director of Amnesty Venezuela, who will provide a firsthand account of the Venezuela human rights crisis. Lunch will be provided.

U.S.-Mexico border:  2 p.m. CVC HC-8, AIUSA will co-host a briefing, “Lives in Danger, Justice Denied: Asylum Seekers at the U.S.-Mexico Border.” Amnesty’s Americas Director Charanya Krishnaswami will speak on developments at the U.S.-Mexico border including the asylum ban 2.0, which was recently greenlighted by the Supreme Court. Lunch will be provided.

 

October 8

Climate displacement:  12:30 p.m., Russell 325, AIUSA will host a briefing, “Climate Crisis and Displacement” on the effects of the climate crisis on refugees around the world. Lunch will be provided. RSVP here.

 

4) Full September Newsletter

For more human rights updates in Asia, the Americas, the Middle East and Eurasia, see our full late September newsletter here.

 

5) Connect With Us

Follow breaking human rights news, follow Amnesty International on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

For more information, please contact:

Africa: Adotei Akwei [email protected]

Asia: Francisco Bencosme [email protected]

Eurasia: Daniel Balson [email protected]

Mid East: Philippe Nassif [email protected]

Americas: Charanya Krishnaswami [email protected]

Refugees: Ryan Mace [email protected]

Gender: Tarah Demant [email protected]

Gun Violence: Adotei Akwei [email protected]

National Security: Daphne Eviatar [email protected]

Criminal Justice: Krissy Roth [email protected]

Human Rights Defenders: Andrew Fandino [email protected]

All other issues: Joanne Lin [email protected]

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