10th November 2016
A Message from Anthony Romero, Executive Director of ACLU
For nearly one hundred years, the ACLU has stood as this nation's premier defender of freedom and justice for all. We have worked with and battled American presidents of both parties to ensure that our country makes good on its founding promise as the land of the free.
Today, in an open letter to President-elect Trump, we have asked him to reconsider and change course on certain campaign promises he has made. Specifically, he has promised to:
- amass a force to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants
- ban the entry of Muslims into the U.S. and institute aggressive surveillance programs targeting them
- restrict a woman's right to abortion services
- reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture
- change our nation's libel laws and restrict freedom of expression.
These promises are not simply un-American and wrong-headed. They are also unlawful and unconstitutional, and would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth amendments of the Constitution, as well as other statutes and international treaties.
If he does not reverse course and endeavors to make these campaign promises a reality, President-elect Trump will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at his every step. Our staff of litigators and activists across the country; thousands of volunteers; and millions of card-carrying members and supporters stand ready to fight against any encroachment on our hard-won freedoms and rights.
Many of our country's most cherished rights were the result of ACLU litigation and advocacy. The Scopes trial (the right to teach evolution in public science classrooms) and seminal Supreme Court cases like Korematsu (challenging Japanese American internment), Miranda (the right to remain silent), Griswold (the right to contraception), Loving (the right of interracial couples to marry), Gideon (the right to a court appointed attorney if you can't afford one), Windsor (striking down the Defense of Marriage Act), and Obergefell (the right of same sex couples to marry) were all fruits of our labor.
One thing is certain: we will be eternally vigilant every day of Trump’s tenure as President. And when he ultimately vacates the Oval Office, we will do likewise with his successor.
We have challenging times ahead of us. We will need to draw on your moral and financial support in these years to come as we stand up, together, for freedom and justice.
A Message from Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
Racism, xenophobia, and misogyny were the ugly currency of Donald Trump’s campaign. Now that he has been elected, our challenge is to ensure that they do not characterize his presidency.
A president who acts on that rhetoric, or who continues to debase our political discourse, is an affront to the values of the human rights movement. We must insist that he resist any further scapegoating of the vulnerable in the name of the economic or social pressures confronting his followers.
Rights cannot be abrogated by majority vote. Long historical experience shows that to trample on the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized today is to undermine rights when we may need them tomorrow.
Now more than ever we must rally behind the values of the human rights cause. Everyone deserves respect for their rights, whether a Muslim or Mexican, a woman seeking equal pay or control of her body, an African-American encountering the criminal justice system, or a terrorism suspect before an interrogator.
President-elect Donald Trump said he will govern for all Americans. Human Rights Watch is here to hold him to that promise. As we do with every government, we will stand up for the dignity of all human beings that informs our cause. We are grateful that you are standing with us.
A Message from Elisa Massimino, President and CEO, Human Rights First
If there was ever any doubt about the importance of our mission and what we do every day—to protect refugees, to lift up the voices of tolerance, to end the exploitation of the marginalized, to build alliances in support of the rule of law—last night's election results were a stark reminder. We just issued a public statement in anticipation of President Obama’s scheduled Thursday meeting with President-Elect Trump.
The outcome of the election will change what's possible in the near term; we will have to focus on holding the line in some areas where we’d hoped to charge forward. But nothing changes our core values nor our commitment to living them through our work and making them real in people’s lives.
Many Americans woke up this morning anxious and concerned for our country and for individuals who may be targets of hate. Our staff came to work fiercely committed and focused on what matters most: upholding the ideals that make America a strong and compassionate nation.
Today we will move forward with renewed commitment, energy, and ideas. Thank you for standing with us and for your support.
President and Chief Executive Officer
8th October 2016
I am delighted to announce that Poonam Joshi has been appointed as the next Executive Director of the Sigrid Rausing Trust. She joins SRT from the Fund for Global Human Rights, where she was Director of the European Office. She previously worked at SRT, first as Acting Director of our Women’s Rights programme and subsequently as a consultant, developing our grant making strategy for the Middle East and North Africa. Ms Joshi, who is a qualified lawyer, holds a BA in English from Oxford University and a Masters in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. She will take up her post in mid-November.
Sigrid Rausing, Chair of Trustees
6th April 2016
Julie Broome, our Director of Programmes, has been appointed the new Director of Ariadne. We are delighted on her behalf and very grateful for all that Julie has achieved in her seven years at the Trust. She has skilfully led the implementation of our new thematic programmes, and been a source of expert advice and guidance for trustees, staff and the many grantees she has introduced to the Trust and worked with over the years. We wish her every success in her new role. We have asked Perrett Laver to help us in our search for her successor. Applications for the post of Executive Director of the Trust are invited. More details can be obtained from: http://www.perrettlaver.com/candidates the reference number is 2512.
13th October 2015
Statement by Ms. Julienne Lusenge, President of SRT grantee Sofepadi, at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security
Ms. Julienne Lusenge is the Director of the Congolese Women’s Fund, FFC and President of SRT grantee Sofepadi. She delivered a statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security in New York on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. The focus of the debate was the High-level Review held in recognition of the 15th Anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 1325 (2000). Ms. Lusenge's statement highlighted: the challenges women in the Democratic Republic of Congo have had in accessing peace negotiations, the importance of community engagement in peace operations and need for national and international justice.
16th July 2015
Kelly Ann Quinn
It is with great sadness that I write to let you know that Kelly Ann Quinn, director of the Trust’s Women’s Rights programme from 2007 to 2014 and more recently a Programme Advisor to the Trust, passed away on 14 July 2015 after a long battle with cancer.
Kelly was dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls and worked across many regions of the world supporting activists for women’s rights. She provided tireless support and encouragement to many of our grantees. She had a real passion for their work, and a deep empathy for women fighting for their communities. Her insightful advice, warm nature, and playful sense of fun fostered a great trust among the women’s rights advocates she worked with.
Kelly had an adventurous spirit and was willing to travel far and wide to tackle the issues she cared about. Indeed, it was while living in the Russian Far East that she met her husband, Ross Maclaren. They later settled in London, where they have been raising their young son, Colin.
We have lost a valued and much liked colleague and friend, whose courage has inspired us all. Our thoughts go out to all of Kelly’s family and friends at this difficult time.
With best regards,
18th December 2014
US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence releases report into CIA’s use of torture
9th December 2014: after over five years of investigation, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has released a redacted executive summary of its 6,000-page report on the CIA’s rendition, secret detention and torture programme. The summary is available at http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/study2014/sscistudy1.pdf. In her foreword to the report, Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein said:
“I have attempted throughout to remember the impact on the nation and to the CIA workforce from the attacks of September 11, 2001. I can understand the CIA's impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield, and CIA was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack.”
“Nevertheless, such pressure, fear, and expectation of further terrorist plots do not justify, temper, or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security. The major lesson of this report is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the Intelligence Community's actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards. It is precisely at these times of national crisis that our government must be guided by the lessons of our history and subject decisions to internal and external review.
Instead, CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values.”
“It is my sincere and deep hope that through the release of these Findings and Conclusions and Executive Summary that U.S. policy will never again allow for secret indefinite detention and the use of coercive interrogations. As the Study describes, prior to the attacks of September 2001, the CIA itself determined from its own experience with coercive interrogations, that such techniques "do not produce intelligence," "will probably result in false answers," and had historically proven to be ineffective. Yet these conclusions were ignored. We cannot again allow history to be forgotten and grievous past mistakes to be repeated.”
“President Obama signed Executive Order 13491 in January 2009 to prohibit the CIA from holding detainees other than on a ‘short-term, transitory basis’ and to limit interrogation techniques to those included in the Army Field Manual. However, these limitations are not part of U.S. law and could be overturned by a future president with the stroke of a pen. They should be enshrined in legislation.
Even so, existing U.S. law and treaty obligations should have prevented many of the abuses and mistakes made during this program. While the Office of Legal Counsel found otherwise between 2002 and 2007, it is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured. I also believe that the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading. I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible.
While the Committee did not make specific recommendations, several emerge from the Committee's review. The CIA, in its June 2013 response to the Committee's Study from December 2012, has also already made and begun to implement its own recommendations. I intend to work with Senate colleagues to produce recommendations and to solicit views from the readers of the Committee Study.”
“The Committee Study, including the now-declassified Executive Summary and Findings and Conclusions, as updated is now final and represents the official views of the Committee. This and future Administrations should use this Study to guide future programs, correct past mistakes, increase oversight of CIA representations to policymakers, and ensure coercive interrogation practices are not used by our government again.”
The report confirms that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the CIA amounted to torture:
“At least five CIA detainees were subjected to ‘rectal rehydration’ or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. The CIA placed detainees in ice water ‘baths’. The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because "we can never let the world know what I have done to you." CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families—to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to ‘cut [a detainee's] mother's throat.’” [Report Findings and Conclusions, page 11]
The report further establishes that the use of such techniques did little to provide effective intelligence or strengthen national security:
“The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees [...] For example, according to CIA records, seven of the 39 CIA detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques produced no intelligence while in CIA custody.* CIA detainees who were subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were usually subjected to the techniques immediately after being rendered to CIA custody. Other detainees provided significant accurate intelligence prior to, or without having been subjected to these techniques. While being subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and afterwards, multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence. Detainees provided fabricated information on critical intelligence issues, including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.” [Report Findings and Conclusions, page 2]
The work of a number of the Sigrid Rausing Trust’s grantees has contributed to the findings of the Committee, including ACLU, whose litigation under the Freedom of Information Act about the CIA’s torture programme, and the subsequent destruction of evidence, was one of the catalysts for the investigation. Links to our grantees’ coverage of the case are below:
Association for the Prevention of Torture: http://www.apt.ch/en/blog/so-now-we-know-what-comes-after-the-torture-report/#.VIrFP2cYS70
Center for Justice and Accountability: http://www.cja.org/downloads/Senate%20Intelligence%20Committee%20Executive%20Summary%20Final.pdf
Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/12/10/us-senate-report-slams-cia-torture-lies
7th November 2014
We are delighted to welcome Tim Cahill and Nathalie Losekoot to the Trust as Programme Officers for Human Rights.
Prior to joining the Trust, Tim headed Amnesty International’s Brazil team for over 10 years. During this time he did extensive work on issues including prisons and torture, indigenous peoples’ rights, slave labour, land rights, and threats and killings of human rights defenders. His main area of expertise is public security, social exclusion and human rights, leading him to devise dynamic new strategies to address systemic urban violence in Brazil and in Africa. Previously he worked at the Portuguese for Africa section of the BBC World Service. Tim has an MA in Political Science from the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of London, and a BA in Portuguese, Brazilian and African studies from King’s College London.
Before joining the Trust Nathalie led the Europe and Central Asia Programme of ARTICLE 19, with a particular focus on the protection of the right to freedom of expression and access to information in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Russia. She has worked in human rights for over 15 years, starting as a volunteer for the Dutch section of Amnesty International and later working as a campaigner for Eastern Europe at Amnesty, before spending a number of years in Kyrgyzstan as the Bishkek Director of the Eurasia Foundation. She has an MA in Russian and Political Science from Leiden University and an MA in European Environmental Management from the University of Amsterdam.
26th August 2014
The Trust was deeply sorry to hear of the death of Helen Bamber last week at the age of 89.
Helen, the founder of our grantee the Helen Bamber Foundation, dedicated her life to the pursuit of dignity and justice for the survivors of the most terrible human rights abuses, and her work will not be forgotten.
In a statement on the Helen Bamber Foundation's website, their director TJ Birdi said, “Helen’s lifelong ability to always speak truth to power was a quality that is rare and has inspired so many. Always working with the most vulnerable and marginalised, in the most difficult of circumstances, with Helen it was possible to stand at the edge of the world and know how to first find, and then hold an ember of life after atrocity. Refusing to be a bystander, her lifelong ability to represent those whose voices have been taken away was a rare and inspiring quality that earned her respect at the highest levels."
Links to some obituaries of Helen are below.
7th May 2014
We are delighted to welcome Stephanie Schlitt to the Trust as a Programme Officer for the Women’s Rights Programme from June 2014. Stephanie has extensive professional experience of women’s rights, having spent seven years as a Research and Policy Advisor for Amnesty International’s Gender Unit and Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme, where she provided leadership to Amnesty International's joint strategising, research and campaigning (particularly on sexual and reproductive rights) with a wide variety of partner organisations in all regions, and gender policy, methodology and strategy advice to campaigners, researchers and strategists across the Amnesty International movement. She also spent three years as Coordinator of a consultation process on Amnesty International's sexual and reproductive rights policy, and in 2012 she worked as a consultant to the World Health Organisation’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research.
Stephanie holds an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics, and an MA in International Relations and Philosophy from the University of St Andrews.
29th April 2014
We are delighted to announce that Julie Broome is the Sigrid Rausing Trust’s new Director of Programmes. Julie brings 15 years of experience in the human rights field to the role, having worked at the Trust since 2009 in a number of capacities including most recently as Head of Human Rights. Prior to joining the Trust she was Programme Director at the CEELI Institute in Prague, where she was responsible for conducting rule of law-related trainings for judges and lawyers from countries undergoing transition. Previously, she was a Programme Manager for Central and Eastern Europe with the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative, and a Programme Associate at the Henry M Jackson Foundation in Seattle.
Julie holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MA in International Studies from the University of Washington, and an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex.
11th April 2014: UN Strengthens Key Human Rights Reporting System
The Informal Consultation of Chairpersons of Human Rights Treaty Bodies was held from 31 January to 1 February 2014 at the American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL), with support from the Sigrid Rausing Trust and two other funders. The purpose of this meeting was to adopt a joint resolution designed to improve human rights protection, fend off attempts to attack the independence of the treaty bodies, and strengthen the system by allocating resources and protecting civil society's role and human rights defenders against reprisals. The Statement adopted during that meeting played a crucial role in the process of discussion that took place within the UN General Assembly, which yesterday (10th April) adopted a historic resolution strengthening the system of protection. For more information please see the full text of the statement:
Statement-TB-Chairpersons-Washington-DC-1-February-2014.docx.doc (MS Word Document - 30Kb)
27th March 2014: UN Human Rights Council backs enquiry into Sri Lankan war crimes
The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution calling for an international enquiry into human rights abuses perpetrated by both sides at the end of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war. The vote was passed by 23 to 12, with 12 abstentions.
Sri Lanka has been under growing pressure from the international community to investigate war crimes allegedly committed in 2009 when the civil war was in its final stages. Thousands of people were killed during the final defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Some died due to bombing by government troops, while others were allegedly executed or forced to bear arms against their will. A UN report estimates that 40,000 people may have died during this period; however the Sri Lankan government does not accept this figure.
The Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has refused to accept the UN resolution, stating that he will pursue his own reconciliation plan.
A report by the International Truth and Justice Project published in March 2014 documents instances of torture, violence and rape by the Sri Lankan security forces against those suspected of being LTTE supporters. Many of the alleged incidents occurred as recently as this year. The report is available in English, Tamil and Sinhala at http://www.stop-torture.com.
The following article was published in Alliance magazine on 1st June 2005 to mark the Sigrid Rausing Trust's first 10 years: