Refugees International joined 61 organizations in signing a letter urging U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to lead in passing the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, H.R.3030.
Former government and humanitarian leaders write to U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, urging him to reconsider, amid a decision on the reorganization of the U.S. Department of State, the elimination of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. The letter outlines and underscores the unique role the bureau plays in influencing U.S. foreign policy interests and leadership.
Refugees International joined 45 other organizations in sending the following letter to Senator Inhofe (Acting Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee), Senator Reed (Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee), Representative Thornberry (Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee), and Representative Smith (Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee). The letter urges the U.S. government to strengthen targeted sanctions on Myanmar.
RI joined 83 organizations in writing a letter to Congressman Paul Ryan, Senator Mitch McConnell, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Chuck Schumer condemning family separation and detention of asylum seekers at U.S. southern border. While there have been positive policy developments, there are still many children separated from their parents, and the U.S. government continues to advance policies that violate international norms.
Refugees International joined CARE International, Plan International, the UNSW Forced Migration Network, and the Women’s Refugee Commission in suggesting the following changes to the third draft of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) related to women and girls ahead of the fifth round of consultations on June 12-13, 2018 in Geneva.
In a letter to leading members of Congress, Refugees International joined with 27 international humanitarian, human rights, peace and security organizations to, Refugees International to advocate for continued strong U.S. leadership at the United Nations. The letter called on the Congress Members to ensure that the U.S. government honors its financial commitments to the UN in Fiscal Year 2019 and to oppose any efforts to rescind UN funding as agreed to on a bipartisan basis as part of the FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
On Thursday, April 12, 2018, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold the nomination hearing for Secretary of State nominee Michael Pompeo. In advance of that hearing, Refugees International sent a letter to Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Ranking Member Robert Menendez urging that they and other Members of the Committee ensure that the nominee address critical concerns regarding the nominees views and approaches to refugee policies.
More than 110 CEOs of nongovernmental organizations announced a pledge today that commits to prevent sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment of NGO staff and the communities they serve. The pledge represents a public commitment to practices and policies that will not only protect the staff of the participating organizations but also the communities they serve.
As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson embarks on a multi-nation trip to sub-Saharan Africa, Refugees International delivered a letter to the secretary urging the Trump administration to use this critical opportunity to reaffirm U.S. humanitarian support, while advocating for policies that promote the safety, dignity, and rights of refugees and displaced populations in the sub-Saharan region. In the letter, Refugees International President Eric Schwartz underlines the urgent challenges in Nigeria and Kenya in particular, stating that swift action is needed by the U.S. administration to address ongoing humanitarian and displacement crises in those nations.
We are writing to you as human rights, health, and development organizations to raise our deep concern about news that the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report will no longer highlight the full range of abuses and human rights violations experienced most especially by women, girls, LGBTQI people, and other marginalized peoples around the world. According to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, officials “will sharpen the focus of the report on abuses of internationally recognized human rights and the most egregious issues.”
The leaders of 21 leading organizations involved in international humanitarian response sent a letter to the Trump Administration objecting “in the strongest terms” to the U.S. decision to withhold $65 million in planned U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The letter was sent to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Yemen is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, the man-made result of almost 1,000 days of war. As documented by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the war in Yemen has been marked by flagrant and repeated violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by all parties, including airstrikes, shelling, and other attacks on civilians, as well as unlawful restrictions on humanitarian access.
November 2, 2017
The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
The Honorable Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220
Re: Burma and Targeted Sanctions
Dear Secretaries Tillerson and Mnuchin,
The US government urgently needs to act to help address the grave human rights and humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the Burmese military’s brutal response to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA)’s August 25 attack on government posts in Burma’s Rakhine State.
As you know, since late August, Burmese security forces have waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing and committed numerous crimes against humanity against the Rohingya population, a long-persecuted ethnic and religious minority group predominantly in Rakhine State. In response to these abuses, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh over the past two months.
Satellite images commissioned by independent organizations show hundreds of burned villages – and tens of thousands of torched buildings. Refugees have provided first-hand accounts of unfathomable brutality: soldiers burning infants alive, gang-raping women, shooting villagers fleeing their homes – violations that research by nongovernmental organizations has found to be widespread and systematic.
United Nations investigators who have conducted interviews of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have noted “a consistent, methodical pattern of actions resulting in gross human rights violations affecting hundreds of thousands of people.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, has called the scale and nature of the atrocities in Rakhine a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Despite international condemnation, Burmese authorities continue to restrict access to the region for most international humanitarian organizations, a UN fact-finding mission, and independent media. The commander-in-chief of the Burmese military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and other Burmese officials, refuse to acknowledge the atrocities their forces have committed.
We commend the U.S. government for the nearly $104 million in humanitarian assistance it has provided in fiscal year 2017, nearly $40 million of which was provided in direct response to the Rakhine State crisis, to displaced populations in Burma and refugees in neighboring countries. We also strongly support the State Department’s statement that “individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes, be held accountable.”
It is critical that the U.S. government respond to the severity and scope of the Burmese military’s ethnic cleansing campaign with effective action. To this end, we urge the administration to immediately and robustly impose targeted economic sanctions authorized under the 2008 JADE Act and the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Under the JADE Act, the president is empowered to issue travel restrictions and financial sanctions against Burmese military officials and their immediate family members if they are “involved in…gross violations of human rights in Burma or in the commission of other human rights abuses.” Steps taken by the previous administration to lift sanctions did not unravel existing authorities but only waived them, and, according to recent State Department releases, some JADE Act authorities are currently in use, such as the ban on current and former Burmese military officials traveling to the United States. The administration should move to robustly and vigorously employ the remaining authorities.
In addition to the JADE Act, the administration should exercise its authority granted under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows for the levying of travel restrictions and financial sanctions against individuals responsible for acts of significant corruption and gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals who seek “to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as the freedom of religion.” Given that the Burmese military’s actions against the Rohingya people are motivated at least in part on religious grounds, the Global Magnitsky Act is applicable.
Given the systemic nature of the crimes being perpetrated against the Rohingya people, it is important that sanctions designations levied under either the JADE Act or Global Magnitsky Act target appropriately senior officials who likely ordered criminal acts or appear to have been criminally responsible as a matter of command responsibility. Command responsibility would encompass those senior-most members of the Burmese security forces who knew or had reason to know that their subordinates were committing extrajudicial killings, rape, arson and other abuses, and failed to take all necessary and reasonable steps to prevent such abuses or punish those responsible.
As you recently said, Secretary Tillerson, “the world cannot just sit idly by and be witness to these atrocities.” The JADE Act and Global Magnitsky Act provide the executive branch with tools for action. The United States should employ them to the fullest to prevent dire consequences for Burma’s future and send an unmistakable signal to the rest of the world.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights First
Ameinu (Our People)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish World Service
Association Suisse Birmanie
Boat People SOS
Buddhist Global Relief
Burma Action Ireland
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Human Rights Network
Burma Task Force
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
Center for Justice & Accountability
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Estonian American National Council
Equal Rights Trust
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA)
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Global Progressive Hub
Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College
Institute for Asian Democracy
Interfaith Center of New York
International Campaign for the Rohingya
International State Crime Initiative
Investors Against Genocide
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
JACOB: The Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Joint Baltic American National Committee
Jubilee Campaign USA Inc
Just Foreign Policy
Magnitsky Act Initiative
Muslim Bar Association of New York
Muslim Public Affairs Council
Partners Relief & Development
Physicians for Human Rights
Society for Threatened Peoples - Germany
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
The Network of Spiritual Progressives
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Win Without War
As members and partners of InterAction, the nation’s leading advocate for international relief, global health, and development programs, we write to urge that you protect poverty-focused and lifesaving international assistance in any budget deal for FY 2018.
As we approach the 17th anniversary of the adoption of SCR 1325 (2000) and the annual Security Council open debate on women, peace and security (WPS), we take this opportunity to reiterate the fundamental principles enshrined in the WPS agenda and urge each Member State to more consistently promote and abide by them.