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Brian Dooley
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

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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The CIA Torture Report and the UK's Hooded Men

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 3:36 PM

That the CIA thought Wembley is an "area of South London" (p.271) wasn't the most shocking revelation in the report released last week by the U.S. Senate intelligence committee, but it added to the general sense of incompetence by the intelligence agency.

What mattered more was that the CIA interrogation...

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Seven Helpful Things the New Ambassador to Bahrain Can Do

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 3:31 PM

Washington's new ambassador to Bahrain, Bill Roebuck, is set to take up his post in the coming weeks and will be hoping for a smoother ride than his predecessor Tom Krajeski, who was attacked by both the Bahrain government for meddling in internal affairs and by...

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5 Useful Things America's New Ambassador to Egypt Can Do

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 12:45 PM

New U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Stephen Beecroft is expected to arrive in Cairo in the coming weeks to start work. Although he doesn't decide U.S. policy on Egypt, he will be the U.S. official who gets to explain it to Egypt's government and people, setting the tone for how the...

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Seven Things to Watch For in Bahrain's Upcoming Elections

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2014 | 3:08 PM

On Saturday, U.S. ally Bahrain will have its first parliamentary elections since the 2011 mass demonstrations calling for democratic reform. The troubled kingdom has been rocked by nearly four years of political unrest since these demonstrations were violently suppressed by the government. Up for a vote are candidates for the...

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Six Things to Watch Out for in Ukraine's Elections

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 5:38 PM

Parliamentary elections take place in Ukraine on Sunday and are expected to show what direction the under-pressure country is taking. After the Maidan movement protests led to the ouster of the Russian-leaning President Yanukovych in February, a more European-friendly President, Poroshenko was elected in May. This election represents the next...

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Is the United States Government Finally Losing Patience With Bahrain?

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 5:08 PM

The U.S. State Department today reacted to a decision by a Bahraini judge not to release activist Nabeel Rajab from custody and to adjourn his case until October 29. Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said the U.S. government did

"not agree with the prosecution of individuals for crimes of peaceful...
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