Human Rights on Capitol Hill Newsletter – October Edition (10/17/2019)

To view PDF version click here: Human Rights on Capitol Hill – October 2019

Human Rights on Capitol Hill

published by Amnesty International USA

 October 17, 2019

 In this edition of Human Rights on Capitol Hill:

1) This Month’s Feature

Refugees – Amnesty International USA Protests Trump Administration’s Drastic Cuts to Refugee Admissions Program

2) Major Human Rights News

a) Turkey/Syria – Turkish Military Offensive Could Pose Devastating Humanitarian Consequences in northern Syria

b) Venezuela – Amnesty Venezuela Urges Senate to Pass Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for Venezuelans

c) U.S. – Amnesty International Briefing Examines the Climate Crisis and Displacement of Peoples

d) Saudi Arabia – Amnesty International Marks One-Year Anniversary of the Brutal Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

e) U.S. – Amnesty International USA Sponsors National Rally to Demand Congressional Action on Gun Violence

f) U.S.-Mexico Border – Amnesty International Briefs Congress on Dangers Trans Asylum Seekers Face While in Detention

g) Honduras – Amnesty International USA Condemns Honduras-U.S. Asylum Agreement

h) Somalia – Amnesty International Demands Recognition of Civilians Killed in Airstrikes by U.S. Military

i) U.S. – Amnesty International USA Urges Congress to Pass the Solitary Confinement Study and Reform Act

j) U.S. – Amnesty International USA Condemns the President’s National Emergency Declaration

3) What’s Coming Down the Pike?

Asia – October 22, 10 am, 2200 Rayburn: Amnesty’s Asia Advocacy Manager Francisco Bencosme will testify before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on human rights in South Asia.

Mid East – October 29, 10 am, 421 Cannon: Amnesty’s Mid East Advocacy Director Philippe Nassif will speak on a panel about human rights in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf.

U.S.-Mexico Border – October 21-28: Amnesty International USA will send a high-level delegation to south Texas to examine access to asylum at the border.

4) Full October Newsletter

5) Connect With Us

 

 

1) This Month’s Feature

Refugees – Amnesty International USA Protests Trump Administration’s Drastic Cuts to Refugee Admissions Program. In late September the President announced that the U.S. would cut the refugee admissions goal to the lowest number in history when over 1.4 million refugees need access to resettlement. On October 15, Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director Margaret Huang was arrested during a protest at the Capitol while Secretary of State Pompeo met with Congress. In September, over 400 state and local elected leaders from 46 states called on the President to resettle more refugees.

On October 15, Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director joined other human rights leaders to protest the all-time low Presidential Determination for FY 2020.

2) Major Human Rights News

a) Turkey/Syria – Turkish Military Offensive Could Pose Devastating Humanitarian Consequences in northern Syria. An estimated 2.2 million people in Northern Syria are at risk as Turkey continues its military operations against YPG/Kurdish forces. Amnesty International has identified attacks by Turkish forces that led to at least 32 civilian deaths, including the killing of a prominent Kurdish women’s rights activist and politician. We are currently investigating reports of serious violations, including possible war crimes, in the current Turkish offensive. In areas that have come under Syrian government control, civilians are at risk of enforced disappearance, torture, forced conscription and arbitrary detention, particularly activists – both Syrian Arabs and Syrian Kurds. Amnesty International urges all states to end the transfer of weapons to combatants that carry a substantial risk of facilitating violations of human rights. Moreover, the government of Turkey must ensure that individuals exercising their freedom of speech to criticize the military operation do not face retaliation through investigations, imprisonment, or violence. For additional, timely updates about the human rights situation in Northern Syria, please contact Philippe Nassif, Amnesty International USA Middle East Advocacy Director, at [email protected].

b) Venezuela – Amnesty Venezuela Urges Senate to Pass Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for Venezuelans. On September 26, Amnesty Venezuela director Marcos Gomez briefed Congressional staff on the deteriorating human rights condition in Venezuela. The need for the U.S. to protect Venezuelans is more urgent than ever: an estimated 200,000 Venezuelans could benefit from TPS, and Venezuelans now make up the largest nationality affirmatively seeking asylum in the U.S. Venezuelans continue to be at risk of deportation and have been subject to Trump’s anti-asylum measures at the SW border. Amnesty urges the Senate to immediately pass the Venezuela TPS Act ( 636).

c) U.S. – Amnesty International Briefing Examines the Climate Crisis and Displacement of Peoples. On October 8, Amnesty International USA convened an expert panel discuss the effects of the climate crisis on mass displacement throughout the world. The panelists detailed how the climate crisis, environmental degradation, and disasters contribute to displacement, both domestic and international.

d) Saudi Arabia – Amnesty International Marks One-Year Anniversary of the Brutal Murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Amnesty’s Mid East Advocacy Director Philippe Nassif recently spoke at a Congressional event and called on the U.N. to investigate the killing of Khashoggi. Amnesty International USA also co-hosted a vigil in front of the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Washington, D.C.

e) U.S. – Amnesty International USA Sponsors National Rally to Demand Congressional Action on Gun Violence. On September 25 Amnesty International USA joined activists from around the country in a rally calling on Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence. AIUSA is demanding that the Senate mandate universal background checks on all gun sales ( 42) and urges the House to pass the Assault Weapons Ban Act (H.R. 1296), Keep Americans Safe Act (H.R.1186), Extreme Risk Protection Orders Act (H.R. 1236), and Disarm Hate Act (H.R. 2708).

Above: On September 25 AIUSA co-hosted a rally to protest Congressional inaction on gun violence.

f) U.S.-Mexico Border – Amnesty International Briefs Congress on Dangers Trans Asylum Seekers Face While in Detention. On October 16, Amnesty International USA hosted a Hill briefing featuring Alejandra, an asylum seeker from El Salvador who requested protection at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2017 and was subsequently detained by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) for nearly two years. Amnesty International has concluded that some trans asylum seekers in DHS custody have suffered substandard health care, deplorable detention conditions, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity –constituting ill treatment in violation of international legal standards.

On October 16, Amnesty International hosted a Hill briefing featuring a trans asylum seeker who was detained for nearly two years.

g) Honduras – Amnesty International USA Condemns Honduras-U.S. Asylum Agreement. On September 25, DHS announced that it had signed an asylum agreement with Honduras. Reporting suggests that Cubans and Nicaraguans who seek safety at the U.S. border could be sent to Honduras to have their claims processed. Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the Americas, and according to the State Department, transiting migrants in Honduras are “vulnerable to abuse by criminal organizations.” Amnesty International condemns the agreement, which will endanger the lives of asylum-seekers in search of safety.

h) Somalia – Amnesty International Demands Recognition of Civilians Killed in Airstrikes by U.S. Military. In September, Amnesty International released new reporting on civilian casualties caused by U.S. air strikes in Somalia. To date, Amnesty International has identified 17 civilians killed and eight injured by just six U.S. air strikes. However, while the U.S. military has acknowledged conducting 131 air strikes since early 2017, it has acknowledged only two civilian deaths as a result.

i) U.S. – Amnesty International USA Urges Congress to Pass the Solitary Confinement Study and Reform Act. This legislation (H.R. 4488), introduced on September 25, would establish a commission to study solitary confinement, with the goals of implementing more humane national standards informed by best practices and reducing the use of solitary confinement.

j) U.S. – Amnesty International USA Condemns the President’s National Emergency Declaration. S.J.Res. 54 passed the Senate on September 25 but was vetoed by the President on October 16. The President has used the national emergency declaration to manufacture a crisis for the purpose of militarizing the southern border region and blocking asylum seekers from safety in the U.S.

 

3) What’s Coming Down the Pike?

Asia – October 22, 10 am, 2200 Rayburn: Amnesty’s Asia Advocacy Manager Francisco Bencosme will testify before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on human rights in South Asia.

Mid East – October 29, 10 am, 421 Cannon: Amnesty’s Mid East Advocacy Director Philippe Nassif will speak on a panel about human rights in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf.

U.S.-Mexico Border – October 21-28: Amnesty International USA will send a high-level delegation to south Texas to examine access to asylum at the southwest border. For more details, contact Americas Advocacy Director Charanya Krishnaswami at [email protected].

 

4) Full October Newsletter

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

 

5) Connect With Us

Follow breaking human rights news, follow Amnesty International USA 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: Ryan Mace [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]

Human rights are under threat:

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