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Brian Dooley
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As director of the Human Rights Defenders program, Brian leads Human Rights First’s efforts to ensure that human rights defenders can work free from harm and interference, engaging with the U.S. government and with other partners to end threats and obstacles to human rights work.

For the 20 years prior to joining Human Rights First, Brian worked for U.S., Irish and international NGOs. Most recently, Brian led Amnesty International’s work on partnering with national NGOs in the global South. Brian has also worked as Head of Media for Amnesty International in London and in Dublin, and as Director of Communications for Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books about civil rights and U.S. politics, and had early experience on the Hill, interning for Senator Edward Kennedy in the mid-80s as a legislative researcher, contributing to what ultimately became the 1986 Anti-Apartheid Act. Before that, he lived and worked as an English teacher and community organizer in a black township in South Africa in 1981-82, which was prohibited under apartheid’s racial segregation laws.

Brian has an MPhil in Government and Politics from The Open University in London, and a B.A. with honors in Political Science from the University of East Anglia.

Entries by Brian Dooley

Kenyan Corruption Undermines Fight Against Extremism

(0) Comments | Posted July 6, 2015 | 1:23 PM

NAIROBI -- Parts of Kenya's capital are having a dramatic makeover in the weeks before President Obama's arrival at the end of the month. The pope is also due to travel here in November, and workers are sprucing up the route from the airport to the central district by laying...

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Kenyan Government Struggles to Fight Mombasa Terrorism

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2015 | 2:51 PM

This week the Kenyan government is hosting a summit on countering violent extremism in Nairobi, a regional conference that follows up on a February White House Summit. In a coastal city of Mombasa, people have experienced violent extremism firsthand with a series of attacks on churches.

The attacks of the...

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No Hollywood Ending for Bahraini Opposition Leaders

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 4:47 PM

Yul Brynner's 1962 role as a political leader on the run from a middle eastern dictator wasn't his finest. The film -- Escape from Zahrain -- is pretty awful. The New York Times review skewered the plot as a "nonsensical tale of an Arab rebel chief... [which] never rises above...

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A Bad Year for Yara Sallam in Egypt's Republic of Fear

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2015 | 11:11 AM

Sunday June 21 will mark one year since Egyptian human rights defender Yara Sallam and 22 others were arrested in the Cairo district of Heliopolis. She's been in jail since then, along with six other women who were arrested at the same time in connection with a peaceful protest. Sanaa...

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Bahrain Medic Recounts Conditions in Jaw Prison

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 10:12 AM

Finally, after serving his three year sentence in a Bahrain prison, 47-year-old nurse Ebrahim Demastani has been released. Demastani is one of the dozens of Bahraini medics who were arrested and tortured in 2011 after they treated injured protestors during the country's pro-democracy demonstrations in February and March...

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Fighting Bahrain's Sectarian Threat

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2015 | 11:08 AM

Rocked by last week's bombings of Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia which killed dozens of people, Bahrain's government has responded with a series of statements against incitement and sectarianism. Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa called for tolerance, saying "It is a duty to protect worshipping places...

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Change is Coming, Slowly and Suddenly

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2015 | 9:52 AM

A few years ago it seemed almost unimaginable. Ireland's overwhelming support of legalizing same-sex marriage is a reminder of how fast political change can happen, and how apparent certainties can crumble at lightning speed.

In 1983, the Chief Justice of Ireland declared that homosexuality was:

Of course, morally wrong,...
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How To Sound Like a Washington Expert on Bahrain

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 9:28 AM

Next week is the big meeting between the Gulf monarchs and President Obama in Washington. Kings and princes and emirs from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - will get the full red carpet treatment at the White...

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Trouble in Paradise: How U.S. Ally UAE Crushes Dissent

(6) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 9:38 AM

Abu Dhabi -- Backed by an impressively lavish lobbying and PR machine -- more expensive than any other middle eastern country -- the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is eager to show that it's a safe and stable business environment, and a dependable U.S. military ally. "United in Security"...

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Bahrain's Prison Crisis Deepens

(1) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 5:02 PM

In December 2013 Human Rights First predicted trouble in Bahrain's prisons. "Overcrowding is a recipe for destabilization that could spread beyond the prison's walls," we said. Sure enough, four months later, there was a riot in Bahrain's main prison, Jaw.

The authorities reported, "A team of...

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Bahrain's Prisons at Their Breaking Point

(1) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 2:26 PM

Something's wrong at Bahrain's main jail, Jaw Prison. It's hard to get full details, but the authorities and the families of prisoners agree that serious disturbances happened there on March 10.

The authorities say there was damage to prison property "as a result of riotous activity last week."...

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Swaziland, the King of Old-Fashioned Repression

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 11:02 AM

It sounds like a case from the 1950s: a human rights lawyer thrown into jail after daring to criticize the country's judiciary. But Thulani Maseko is unlucky enough to be living in Swaziland, Africa's only remaining absolute monarchy, and to be blessed with the sort of personal courage that makes...

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Is Bahrain the New Apartheid State?

(3) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 1:15 PM

Over the last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, I've heard Bahrain described several times as an apartheid state. It's not a new comparison. A few days after the mass protests for democracy broke out in February 2011, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wrote a piece...

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Top 5 Things John Legend Should Know About Bahrain

(0) Comments | Posted February 27, 2015 | 11:42 AM

American singer/songwriter John Legend is set to play a gig in Bahrain on Monday, March 2. Bahrain is a country that has faced ongoing instability and unrest fueled by protests for reform for over four years now. Legend says he knows about human-rights issues in the kingdom but...

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Reports of Torture Haunt Bahrain's CID

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 8:55 AM

Last week, President Obama got it right about terrorism and its causes.

Speaking at a Washington summit on countering violent extremism, he said, "We have to address the political grievances that terrorists exploit... When people are oppressed, and human rights are denied -- particularly along sectarian lines or ethnic lines...

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Four Years On, U.S. Should Push Bahrain to Reform Security Forces

(1) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 2:07 PM

This post is co-authored with Staci Strobl, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Four years ago, on February 14, 2011, the first in a series of large protests convulsed the smallest country in the Middle East, Bahrain. One of the popular grievances which prompted demonstrations, like elsewhere...

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The Beginning of the End for Bahrain's Tolerated Opposition

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 3:43 PM

The trial of Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Bahrain's main opposition group Al Wefaq, opens on Wednesday, January 28, and marks a massive step away from hopes of an inclusive political settlement in the turbulent country. Bahrain, a U.S. military ally, has failed to implement long-promised reforms. The last few...

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Hussain Jawad Case Presents Bahrain With Key Test on Speech

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 1:17 PM

Yesterday, Bahrain's foreign minister took part in a Paris rally in protest of the recent killings at the Charlie Hebdo offices and elsewhere. Meanwhile, his government continues to harass journalists and other peaceful critics, including human rights defender Hussain Jawad, who is charged with free speech-related offenses and faces court...

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CIA Torture's Immeasurable Damage to U.S. Global Leadership

(3) Comments | Posted January 1, 2015 | 4:03 PM

Last month's revelations about CIA torture have hurt U.S. credibility worldwide. The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA Interrogation concluded the program "created tensions with U.S. partners and allies...complicating bilateral intelligence relationships." It said the program caused "immeasurable damage to the United States' public standing, as well as to the...

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How CIA Torture Didn't Prevent an Attack on Heathrow

(16) Comments | Posted December 23, 2014 | 12:40 PM

Nine years ago today CIA Director Porter Goss wrote to senior U.S. intelligence officers assuring them that the agency's torture interrogations "produced intelligence that allowed the U.S... to disrupt attacks such as 911-style attacks planned for... Heathrow airport. I can inform you with confidence that this program has allowed the...

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