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Human Rights First

Civil Society Should Not Be Locked Out of Syria Talks

Brian Dooley | Posted 02.04.2016 | World
Brian Dooley

It's hard to see how any informed political deal can be found without direct input from those battling to hold what's left of Syrian society together. Putting civil society's concerns and proposed solutions at the heart of negotiations is essential to producing a sustainable deal.

No One Was "Right on Egypt"

Neil Hicks | Posted 02.01.2016 | Politics
Neil Hicks

Given the disastrous course of Egypt's transition since President Mubarak stepped down from office in February 2011, many commentators are quick to claim 20/20 hindsight.

They Hear Us: The Toxic U.S. Debate about Refugee Resettlement

Human Rights First | Posted 01.26.2016 | Politics
Human Rights First

The world is listening to the rhetoric of U.S. political leaders and watching to see what the United States will do. That includes our allies, and the many families who have been waiting for years to rebuild their lives in safety and freedom.

Bahrain's Fake Human Rights Conference Is Another PR Disaster

Brian Dooley | Posted 01.22.2016 | World
Brian Dooley

It makes you wonder what the organizers are thinking, or how powerful the self-delusion must be in the royal places in Bahrain that they think people will be conned into thinking that the country's human rights record isn't so bad after all.

Five Years On, Egypt's Uprising Flagged at Tahrir

Brian Dooley | Posted 01.20.2016 | World
Brian Dooley

Clinging listlessly to the top of the pole in the middle of Tahrir Square the Egyptian flag projects absolute power, a signal of the old order restored after the mass anti-government uprising of 2011.

Tear Gas and the Worldwide Shrug

Brian Dooley | Posted 12.29.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

Tear gas is the biggest misnomer since Easy Listening. It sounds like something that might make your eyes bleary, right? Maybe force you to cry a bit.

BNA - The Toaster in the Bathtub of Bahrain's Credibility

Brian Dooley | Posted 12.23.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

Treat yourself over the holidays to a peek at Bahrain's state media website ( It's all you'd expect from an authoritarian reg...

5 Fatal Mistakes of the US Response to the Arab Spring

Neil Hicks | Posted 12.18.2015 | World
Neil Hicks

The greatest failure of the past five years has been the inability of the U.S. government and its allies to devise and implement adequate programs to enable and promote post-authoritarian and post-conflict reconstruction.

San Bernardino: The Blasphemy Connection

Neil Hicks | Posted 12.09.2015 | World
Neil Hicks

In the name of national security, the U.S. government should renew efforts to persuade governments in Muslim majority countries -- including Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia -- to repeal blasphemy laws, which restrict freedom of religion and freedom of expression and which strengthen the ideologies of violent extremists, like ISIL.

Lawyers Targeted, Prisoners Tortured; This Is Bahrain

Brian Dooley | Posted 12.02.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

The truth about the king's rule during the last five years is that thousands and thousands of men and women have been jailed as his government has cracked down on peaceful protests.

When Closing Civil Society Space Means Killing Human Rights Defenders

Brian Dooley | Posted 11.29.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

Murderous attacks on HRDs are too often left out of the closing civil society discussion, sanitizing the conversation and reducing it to one about legislation and policy.

Re-examining Countering Violent Extremism Strategy After the Paris Attacks

Neil Hicks | Posted 11.17.2015 | Politics
Neil Hicks

If it is to succeed, CVE policy cannot simply offer a counter-narrative to the misguided violent extremist worldview. Realities on the ground must be transformed. Instead of being reactive, with an emphasis on "countering" threats, policies should focus on constructing positive alternatives.

Obama Administration Should Match Words with Deeds on CVE

Brian Dooley | Posted 11.09.2015 | Politics
Brian Dooley

Despite a session at the recent Manama Dialogue conference on "The Challenges of Extremism," an issue that can't be properly addressed without the expertise of civil society experts, there was no room for civil society voices in the agenda.

For Asylum Seekers, Representation Can Mean the Difference Between Life and Death

Human Rights First | Posted 10.30.2015 | Impact
Human Rights First

This week marks National Pro Bono Week, a time to celebrate the dedication and generosity of pro bono attorneys. For asylum seekers, a lawyer can mean the difference between life and death. With representation, asylum seekers have a much better chance of receiving protection.

Zen and the Art of Petitioning

Sarah Blahovec | Posted 10.28.2015 | Impact
Sarah Blahovec

There are over one billion people with disabilities around the globe. It is unacceptable that we are not recognized. Without the pressure of more voices, they will not understand that the disability community not only exists, but that it is a significant global force that will not be ignored.

FIFA, Man United, and Torture in Bahrain

Brian Dooley | Posted 10.27.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

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.

Inchworm Week At Slowmo Guantanamo

Brian Dooley | Posted 10.23.2015 | Politics
Brian Dooley

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.

Who Needs to Know at Guantanamo

Brian Dooley | Posted 10.22.2015 | Politics
Brian Dooley

Today's holdups were about who needs to know what. The prosecution team represents the government and gets to decide what classified information related to the case it shares with the defense teams and even with the judge.

Guantanamo -- Washington's Expensive Mistake

Brian Dooley | Posted 10.21.2015 | Politics
Brian Dooley

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.

Guantanamo September 11 Detainee Suggests Becoming His Own Lawyer

Brian Dooley | Posted 10.20.2015 | Politics
Brian Dooley

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 is being charged with murder.

Smiles Jar in Guantanamo Court Drama

Brian Dooley | Posted 10.19.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

The judge swings gently on his high-backed black chair and orders a recess. We eventually reconvene over an hour later and the issue is about what sort of conditions Bin Attash can expect if he defends himself: Will he have access to a law library and other material? Will he be able to call lawyers for advice? This all seems unlikely given his current lack of access to his attorneys.

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

Brian Dooley | Posted 09.25.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

Bahrain continues to be shaken by unrest that flared in early 2011 when peaceful protests were violently suppressed by the ruling dictatorship. Part of the repression continues through laws criminalizing online criticism of the ruling family, and a sustained social media attack against those who defend human rights.

Pope's Visit Should Galvanize US to Meaningfully Respond to Global Refugee Crisis

Human Rights First | Posted 09.22.2015 | Politics
Human Rights First

The Pope has shown himself to be an unusually effective advocate. Here's hoping that when he meets with President Obama and addresses Congress, he'll urge the United States to lead a comprehensive global campaign to address the crisis.

United Arab Emirates: Lift Travel Ban on Political Dissidents

Brian Dooley | Posted 09.15.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

It's hard to describe how scared people in the United Arab Emirates are of the secret police. The State Security apparatus is the UAE's Stasi. Human rights activists told me that the agency jailed or forced into exile many of the country's leading lawyers, academics and other civil society leaders.

Americans Jailed in UAE for a Year Without Charge

Brian Dooley | Posted 08.19.2015 | World
Brian Dooley

It's time the US government spoke out about the US citizens in prison in the UAE, and for the many others wrongly detained there. It's been a long year for the al Darats, a horrifying ordeal. It's time it ended.