U.S. Senate Committee passes humanitarian aid resolution on Syria

Notes on U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing

Date: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Time: 02:15 PM
Location: S-116 Capitol Building

Attended / compiled by Anna McMahon, Intern, Middle East/North Africa Advocacy Department, Amnesty International USA

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Presiding: Senator Menendez

Summary: Unanimous passage of Resolution 384 from Committee.

Resolution 384:

“Expressing the sense of the Senate concerning the humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighboring countries, resulting humanitarian and development challenges, and the urgent need for a political solution to the crisis.”

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HRW: Dispatches: “Obama Refuses to Talk Human Rights in Saudi Arabia”


March 31, 2014
By Adam Coogle
Human Rights Watch

US President Barack Obama left Riyadh on the afternoon of March 29 apparently without raising human rights issues during talks with Saudi officials. The trip came at a time when Saudi Arabia has scaled up its persecution of peaceful dissidents and human rights activists – including one who is expected to receive a long prison sentence next week; deported thousands of undocumented migrants who have been detained in terrible conditions; and continues its systematic discrimination against women.

Although billed as a “fence-mending” trip, it is hard not to wonder what it would take for Obama – or any senior US official – to shed some light on these pervasive abuses.

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A Hearing Worth Attending: World Bank Lending and Human Rights

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Hearing:  World Bank Lending and Human Rights
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
2:00 PM-4:00 PM
HVC-210, Washington, DC

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on World Bank lending and human rights.

Although the World Bank has contributed to the advancement of human rights, it currently lacks procedures to track and measure such contribution. More importantly, there are no safeguard policies in place to help the Bank avoid or mitigate adverse human rights impacts resulting from its projects. In the context of the Bank’s unprecedented comprehensive review of its environmental and social safeguard policies and overall restructuring under the new leadership of President Jim Yong Kim, the hearing will examine how the Bank can be more effective in supporting human rights protections in its activities. Given the World Bank’s considerable influence in the development community and its leadership among multilateral organizations, the hearing will also focus on the role of the United States in strengthening the consistency between Bank policy and U.S. law and policy. Continue reading

Quoted: McClatchy News | “Obama honors Saudi woman’s fight against abuse, heads back to Washington”

McClatchy Washington Bureau:   Obama honors Saudi woman’s fight against abuse, heads back to Washington

By Lesley Clark

March 29, 2014

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — President Barack Obama wrapped up a weeklong trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia on Saturday, bestowing an award to a Saudi Arabian woman who has raised the profile of abuse in the country.

The meeting with Dr. Maha Al Muneef came as human rights groups criticized Obama for failing to raise Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in a two-hour meeting Friday night with Saudi King Abdullah.

Obama, who met with Al Muneef at his hotel shortly before leaving the country, made a veiled reference to the kingdom’s record as he gave her the State Department International Women of Courage award, noting that she’s not only set up services and provided shelter for women and children who have been victims of abuse, but has helped to pass laws providing protection for women and children.

“To see the kind of progress that’s been made, her ability to work with the kingdom to persuade many that this is an issue that’s going to be important to the society over the long term, I think makes this award fully justified,” Obama said, telling Al Muneef he was “grateful for all the work you’re doing here and I’m looking forward to seeing you do even more wonderful things in the future.”

The State Department presents the award annually to women who are doing “extraordinary work around the world advocating on behalf of women, children, and families,” Obama said. Al Muneef was unable to make the ceremony at the State Department earlier this month because of family health issues and Obama joked that he was filling in for first lady Michelle Obama, who normally is the presenter.

“I know that Dr. Al Muneef is disappointed that it’s me instead of Michelle — appropriately so,” he said.

Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International’s advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa, said the group was deeply disappointed that Obama didn’t raise human rights issues with the Saudi leader or speak about it publicly.

“The President’s silence demonstrates once again that when it comes to human rights, the U.S. holds repressive allies to a much lower standard than adversaries,” Bery said.

Amnesty noted that 70 members of Congress had urged Obama to bring up the “significant government repression” facing Saudis. Continue reading

After Saudi Arabia: White House Said No Talk of Human Rights (Transcript)

White House briefing post-Saudi trip, as quoted in San Francisco Chronicle blog:

Key part bolded/underlined.

From the White House briefing for press with senior administration officials on the President’s meeting with King Abdullah, March 28:

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Quoted: FoxNews.com | Amnesty International says human rights ‘missing in action’ on Obama trip to Saudi Arabia

FoxNews.com:   Amnesty International says human rights ‘missing in action’ on Obama trip to Saudi Arabia

Published March 28, 2014

Amnesty International is criticizing President Obama for not discussing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in either private meetings with King Abdullah or meetings with other Saudi officials.

A spokesman for the human rights group Sunjeev Bery said in a statement Friday that “human rights were missing in action” during Obama’s trip to the Middle Eastern nation.

He noted that 70 members of Congress urged the president to speak up about the many Saudis that are facing repression by their government, but Obama did not do so.

“The president’s silence demonstrates once again that when it comes to human rights, the U.S. holds repressive allies to a much lower standard than adversaries,” he said.
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