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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

More Sisters Vanish into UAE Police Custody

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 2:27 PM

It's a familiar story. A hundred years ago British suffragettes Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurt went to jail for advocating women's right to vote. Dominican sisters Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal were imprisoned and eventually assassinated (along with another sister Patricia) in 1960 for their opposition to the violent Trujillo dictatorship....

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Obama Administration Should Match Words with Deeds on CVE

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2015 | 3:04 PM

Washington's allies aren't buying President Obama's ideas on including civil society in the fight against terrorism. In Nairobi this year, he told a group of activists that "one of the important lessons that we've learned is that you can't just fight terrorism through military and the police. You...

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FIFA, Man United, and Torture in Bahrain

(0) Comments | Posted October 27, 2015 | 1:00 AM

The 2011 targeting of footballers and other athletes in Bahrain following the pro-democracy protests there is threatening Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa's bid for the FIFA presidency.

Al Khalifa of Bahrain's ruling family has announced his candidacy for the post this week saying ...

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Inchworm Week At Slowmo Guantanamo

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2015 | 10:12 PM

It's been an action packed week in Guantanamo's court, said a leading defense lawyer today without irony - even though there have only been a total of about five hours of public sessions this whole week in the case of the September 11 attacks, which took place 14 years ago.

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Who Needs to Know at Guantanamo

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2015 | 4:52 PM

Before he even spoke, military Judge Pohl opened this morning's hearings in the September 11, 2001 case at Guantanamo with a telling, heavy sigh.

His exasperation at the continual dithering and delays is increasingly obvious as unexpected issue after unexpected issue crops up, putting back the planned...

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Guantanamo -- Washington's Expensive Mistake

(1) Comments | Posted October 21, 2015 | 11:17 AM

We've all spent money on things we shouldn't have. As a teen, I blew my Saturday job earnings on a stud earring I thought would make me irresistible. A few weeks ago my brother-in-law impulse-bought a kilt. But the richer you are, the more spectacular the mistake you can make.

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Guantanamo September 11 Detainee Suggests Becoming His Own Lawyer

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 4:04 PM

Dominating the Guantanamo war court today was yesterday's suggestion by Walid Bin Attash that he represent himself. He's accused of organizing an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan where two of the September 11, 2001 hijackers trained, and charged with murder and a series of other crimes related to that mass killing...

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Smiles Jar in Guantanamo Court Drama

(0) Comments | Posted October 19, 2015 | 6:05 PM

They don't sit together, the five men in the Guantanamo court accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks. It's not a classic defendants together in the dock situation. Not much about these hearings is classic at all. Fourteen years after the crime in question, the military judge is making...

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No Stamp Required: All Too Easy for #Bahrain Twitter Trolls

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2015 | 10:42 AM

In what might be shocking news to younger readers, trolling predates the internet. When in 1987 the UK magazine The Spectator ran an article featuring a description of anti-apartheid activist Marion Sparg as "grossly fat and unattractive," I wrote a letter of complaint to the editor, which was...

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United Arab Emirates: Lift Travel Ban on Political Dissidents

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2015 | 4:37 PM

It's hard to describe how scared people in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are of the secret police. The State Security apparatus, as it's spookily known, is the UAE's Stasi. Human rights activists and others I met secretly in the UAE a few months ago told me that many of...

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Americans Jailed in UAE for a Year Without Charge

(6) Comments | Posted August 19, 2015 | 8:43 PM

Next week will mark a year since U.S. ally United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrested two U.S. citizens - Kamal Ahmed al Darat, age 58, and his son, Mohammed Kamal al Darat, who is 33. Neither have been charged or tried, and both have been swallowed into the UAE's feared State...

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A Generation of Fighting for Human Rights

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2015 | 4:50 PM

We've all done things we're not proud of. At discos in the early '80s I'd dance a solo routine to Dexy's "Come on Eileen" - all rockstar pout and ginger quiff, an inspired fusion of Riverdance and air drumming.

The memories of those days are partly redeemed...

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2022 Becomes a Crucial Test of Human Rights and Sport

(3) Comments | Posted July 31, 2015 | 9:41 PM

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, and now Beijing the Winter Olympics, 2022 is shaping up to be a defining test of international sport's commitment to human rights.

La Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are under increasing global scrutiny...

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In Cairo, Kerry Should Reinforce Obama's Remarks in Kenya

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2015 | 4:54 PM

President Obama hit many right notes during his trip to Kenya last week -- he spoke about the need for civil society inclusion in countering terrorism, about the United States's own mistakes in not treating people equally under the law, and about how government's security forces can fuel the terrorism...

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Violence Escalates in Unstable Bahrain

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 12:01 PM

Today's news that two more policemen have been killed in Bahrain, and others injured, is awful and alarming, but ultimately unsurprising. In recent months the Bahraini government has shut off peaceful avenues of dissent for Bahrainis to express their frustration at the country's lack of democracy and its...

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Obama Shouldn't Take Kenyan Welcome for Granted

(4) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 12:50 PM

President Obama's arrival in Kenya will trigger a rapturous welcome from an enthusiastic public, proud that one of their own is returning as President of the United States and eager to identify with his success and to hear his advice for their country.

Well, maybe.

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During Trip, Obama Should Raise Case of Kenyan Detained at Guantanamo

(1) Comments | Posted July 23, 2015 | 4:03 PM

President Obama has a long list of security-related issues to raise with the Kenyan government during his trip this weekend, including corruption, the rise of violent extremism, and the Kenyan authorities' failure to adopt an inclusive approach to countering terrorism.

Human rights activists in the country told...

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Bahrain's In Out In Out Hokey Pokey Dance

(0) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 1:11 AM

The Bahraini authorities have started to play a bizarrely macabre version of the Hokey Pokey (itself a peculiar song and dance dating back to the early 1800s and known in the UK as the Okey Cokey). In the Bahraini version a political dissident is freed from jail as another is...

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Kenyan Corruption Undermines Fight Against Extremism

(0) Comments | Posted July 6, 2015 | 2:23 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 | 3:51 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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