News / Africa

US Congressional Panel Examines International Human Rights Violations

TEXT SIZE - +
Cindy Saine
CAPITOL HILL - The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing Thursday on threats and restrictions faced by civil society and human rights defenders around the world.  The hearing focused on laws recently enacted and pending legislation in countries such as Ethiopia that are limiting the ability of nongovernmental organizations to operate freely and independently.

One of the co-chairmen of the bipartisan commission, Democratic Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts, said there is a problem worldwide of some governments restricting the core rights of civil society.
 
"From China to Russia, from Bahrain to Mexico, from Egypt to Zimbabwe, and in dozens of other countries, governments are preventing human rights defenders from carrying out their critical work as protectors of fundamental freedoms," he said.

One of the witnesses at the hearing was Adotei Akwei, managing director of government relations at Amnesty International.  He singled out Ethiopia for attacks on civil society.

"Members of the commission, the recent and ongoing developments in Ethiopia linked to the policies and laws implemented by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, have all but gutted civil society in Ethiopia," Akwei said.

Akwei called on the Obama administration to seize the opportunity presented by Meles's visit at the G-8 summit near Washington.

"Amnesty International feels that the current visit of the prime minister to the G8 summit presents a critical opportunity for the Obama administration to strongly urge the government of Ethiopia to move in the right direction and to change course," Akwei said.

Other speakers at the hearing criticized the Obama administration for not standing up more forcefully for human rights activists and trade union leaders in Colombia, and for nongovernmental organizations in Egypt.

Commission co-Chairman McGovern also criticized the Obama administration on its policy toward Bahrain.

"I was disappointed to learn last Friday that the administration is moving forward with a substantial arms deal for Bahrain, despite many continuing human rights violations in that country, including excessive use of force by security personnel and the continued detention of peaceful opposition leaders and human rights defenders," McGovern said.

Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, defended the arms deal, saying the United States is closely monitoring the human rights situation in Bahrain.

"The decision to restore some security operation was done on the basis of our national security interests.  We said forcefully and repeatedly that we did so mindful of the fact that there are a number of serious, unresolved human rights issues in Bahrain," Posner said.

Several human rights experts at the hearing called on the U.S. State Department to craft a list of guidelines for services and assistance that U.S. embassies can provide to human rights activists in dangerous and difficult situations, so that the human rights defenders can have realistic expectations.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gutted
May 20, 2012 2:39 PM
Gee whiz guys what has been happening further South, in Africa? since 1983. Surely you know how to research the facts, or are these serious issues simply shelved and forgotten about, as though they never happened and are irrelevant. Perhaps Mr McGovern could visit Africa and see the situation first hand to discover the truth.


by: Ford Rajan from: Western Oromia
May 18, 2012 4:54 PM
The case of Ethiopia is very peculiar and the crimes committed against humanity in the remote parts of the country, especially in Oromia is peculiar. Securities forces tie bottles of whitehorse and its size the male genital organs with tiny wires and wait them to stand as long as full day or night until they confess crimes, which lead, as obviously, to terror charges. No media personnel and human right groups can reach and report this.


by: Wangchuk from: NYC
May 18, 2012 10:22 AM
Thank you Congress for holding these hearings. The US must do more to stop human rights violations around the world, esp. in China & Tibet. Since 2008, China has imprisoned over 800 Tibetans for political "crimes" like free speech & religion and over 30 Tibetans have self-immolated to protest China's occupation & human rights violations. China has turned the Tibetan Plateau into a giant police state where Tibetans have no rights & fear for their safety from the Chinese security forces. The Party controls the religion of Tibetans & denies them freedom of religion. I hope the US will do more to protect the basic human rights of Tibetans, Uighurs and Chinese.


by: justiceday from: usa
May 18, 2012 2:34 AM
This is a joke. Until the United States has a military that isn't full of rapist they call hero's they need to stop acting like they are better than other countries. Rape in and by the us military is epic. And when you have congressmen who help coverup military rapes who are we to do anything. wwwtheusmarinesrapecom and wwwcitizensagainstmarkcritzcom
What country is going to help women in the us that are being raped?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid