May Human Rights News Roundup – US Foreign Policy Edition

human rights newsThis month’s human rights news roundup includes articles regarding US foreign policy and how the country is handling international human rights issues or the violations in other countries. Primarily, the emphasis in on drones, but that’s not the only thing the administration is focusing on. Catch up with what President Obama and other officials are doing in this news roundup.

Obama Drone Oversight Proposal Prompts Concerns Over ‘Kill Courts’ – The Guardian – In the president’s national security speech last week, he said that he has asked Congress to consider establishing a special court or oversight board to authorize lethal action outside of war zones. He also said that the attacks will be limited and will be carried out by the US military instead of the CIA. Obama said in the speech that with a court or oversight board, it bring in an additional branch of government into the process. This worries human rights and civil liberties groups because it doesn’t change the perspective that the US has a legal right to kill suspected terrorists abroad without trial. It also continues the ‘global war on terror’ and other human rights violations associated with it, such as indefinite detention and unlawful killings.

Kerry, in Africa, Presses Nigeria on Human Rights – The New York Times – Secretary of State John Kerry made this point when he visited the country last week, urging the Nigerian armed forces to keep human rights violations in check when defending itself and the country against Islamic militants. There have been reports in the northeast provinces that the Nigerian army and policy have committed extrajudical killings against both militants and civilians. Kerry did say that the Nigerian government acknowledges the abuses, and that he supports the right of the government and the military to defend itself against the militants.

Did Myanmar President Thein Sein Deserve a Warm Welcome? – Amnesty International – Myanmar/Burma has made great progress in human rights over the past few years, most notably its release of several hundred political prisoners. However, the country and President Thein Sein still have a lot of work to do to further improve human rights in the country. In particular, it needs to build the rule of law, transparency, and accountability, and a prime example of this is with the Rohingya. They are subject to many discriminatory practices as well as growing anti-Muslim violence, but no one in government is denouncing the discrimination.

US: Take Lead Against Lethal Robotic Weapons – Human Rights Watch – Today, for the first time, countries will debate the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons, sometimes called “killer robots,” at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Drones aren’t fully autonomous, but are very close. A UN special rapporteur has asked for a halt on fully autonomous robotic weapons. The introduction of drones and fully autonomous weapons has drastically changed warfare, and that a directive of self-restraint (which is what the US has presently regarding these weapons) isn’t enough. It would be hard to uphold if other countries start using these weapons without similar restraint.

Human Rights in Russia: Pussy Riot Takes Part in Committee Debate – European Parliament News – Although this article has nothing to do with US foreign policy, the Pussy Riot case is something that Amnesty International has been following and working on for some time. So far, only one of the three women of Pussy Riot, Ekaterina Samutsevich, has been released. The other two are still in prison serving sentences. One of them, Maria “Masha” Alekhina, is a single mother who was not allowed to defer serving her sentence until her son turned 14.

You can still take action on this issue by sending a letter to the Prosecutor General.

Related Links:

Sex Trafficking in the United States [Slideshow]

The President and Human Rights

Drones and Lethal Force: The Issue and the Action

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