Will President Obama put human rights on the agenda during Saudi Arabia summit?

Amnesty International is calling on President Obama to make human rights a core part of his agenda this week in Saudi Arabia.

Obama-Salman-SaudiPresident Obama is meeting this week with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, along with the heads of state from the Gulf Cooperation Council:  Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, UAE, and Qatar.

Read our letter and press release.

Qatar, FIFA, and Labor Exploitation – My Senate Testimony

“… in the most extreme examples, foreign migrant workers have become suicidal after being trapped without pay by employers in Qatar. They have been forced to depend on charity from others simply to eat. Meanwhile, their family members in poor communities in their countries of origin can face eviction and other serious challenges…”

US Senate Testimony on Qatar Labor Exploitation by Sunjeev Bery
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security

Hearing - 2015-07-15 - Qatar FIFA - Senate - Sunjeev Bery

“Examining the Governance and Integrity of International Soccer”
July 15, 2015
Verbal Remarks (PDF) / Written Testimony (PDF)Hearing Page / CSPAN Video

Media:  New York Times (1, 2), GuardianUSA TodayReutersBloombergVice NewsMcClatchy DC, Roll Call

Full Text of Verbal Remarks:

“Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Blumenthal, distinguished members of the Subcommittee, and distinguished guests: On behalf of Amnesty International, thank you for the opportunity to address the issue of human rights in Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has brought into global focus the shocking conditions that are routine for migrant workers in Qatar.

Under Qatar’s Kafala employment sponsorship system, foreign migrant workers cannot change employers or leave Qatar without the permission of their current employer. Even if an employer is not paying the employee, the employer can still block the employee from changing jobs or leaving the country.

In 2012, the Qatar National Research Fund funded a survey of some 1,000 low-income labor migrants: Continue reading

Destroying Boats is Not the Answer for Libya’s Refugees and Migrants

Today I spoke with Meghna Chakrabarti of NPR and WBUR’s “Here and Now” on why European proposals to destroy boats won’t help refugees and migrants who are escaping ‪#‎Libya‬:

Listen:  http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/05/11/military-crackdown-migrant-traffickers

 

Interview: The Pope’s Call for Action on Refugees and Migrants

 

"When it comes to immigration, Pope Francis says our globalized world has led to globalized indifference to their suffering. Boston Cardinal O'Malley is working to end that indifference. What role does the Church play in worldwide immigration crises?"

Thousands are fleeing economic hardship, repression, and violence via boats from North Africa in a desperate attempt to reach Europe’s shores.

Today I joined a panel on Huffington Post Live to talk about Pope Francis’ recent call for action on refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers attempting to enter Europe.

You can watch the clip here.

Saudi Arabia & Bahrain: 5 Members of Congress Urge President Obama to Push Saudi Officials to Support Reforms

U.S. Rep Hank Johnson and four other Members of Congress have written a letter to President Obama urging him to push Saudi Arabian officials to be “more constructive” regarding political reform in Bahrain.  The core sentence in the letter is the following:

Long-term stability in Bahrain can only be achieved through meaningful political reform, and we urge you to encourage the Saudi government to play a more constructive role in this regard.

Being “more constructive?”  That’s definitely an understatement. 

As my colleagues wrote in our April 2012 report, “Flawed Reforms Bahrain Fails To Achieve Justice For Protesters” (PDF): 

On 15 March 2011, Saudi Arabia sent at least 1,200 troops to Bahrain across the causeway linking the two states, reportedly at the request of the Bahraini government. The same day,the King of Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency, known as the State of National Safety, and gave the security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain protesters and ban all protests.