Bad news for the administration via Reid Epstein's POLITICO report:
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Article 17 of the ICCPR mandates the right of privacy. This provision, specifically Article 17(1), protects private adult consensual sexual activity, including homosexual behaviour.
In 1994 the Human Rights Committee considered the case of Toonan v Australia. The committee concluded that the criminalisation of sexual acts between consenting adults was a breach of a right to privacy and that the right to be free from
discrimination on grounds of sex included sexual orientation. Since then, the committee has developed and consolidated its own jurisprudence. During the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in February 2010, Iraq expressly and officially rejected calls by UN member States to act to protect persons on account of their sexual preferences, and to investigate homophobic hate crimes and to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice.
UNAMI continued to receive reports during 2010 of attacks against individuals based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation. The topic of homosexuality is largely taboo in Iraq and seen as incompatible with the country's culture and religion.
Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community usually keep their sexual orientation secret and live in constant fear of discrimination, rejection by family members, social ostracism, and violence. The Iraqi Penal Code does not expressly prohibit homosexual relations between consenting adults. However, a variety of less specific, flexible provisions in the Iraqi Penal Code leave room for active discrimination and prosecution of LGBT persons and feeds societal intolerance. Police and courts regularly take into account the alleged homosexuality of the victim as a mitigating factor in relation to crimes committed against persons on account of their perceived or real sexual orientation.
Reports published by Ali Hilli, the pseudonym of the sole publicly known representative of the Londonbased Iraqi LGBT, state that on 16 June, 12 police officers burst into a "safe house" in Karbala' and violently beat up and blindfolded the six occupants before taking them away in three vans. The same report states that the police confiscated computer equipment found in the house before burning it down. The six people arrested reportedly included three men, one woman and two transgender people. Two days later, one of the men turned up in hospital with a throat wound claiming he had been tortured. UNAMI has not been able to ascertain the whereabouts of the other five individuals.
UNAMI continued to follow the cases of ten men who were persecuted in Baghdad because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation. As previously reported, the men had suffered extreme forms of violence and abuse at the hands of members of the Mahdi Army, police officers, religious leaders and local criminal gangs, which had forced them to flee to a neighbouring country in May 2009 from where they hoped to seek protection in third countries. While one of these cases was subsequently resettled through UNHCR, some of these men subsequently returned to Iraq because they claimed they lacked funds and adequate means of support. One of them contacted UNAMI stating that he was homeless and alleging that he was being subjected to further acts of violence. He reported that he could not return to his family who had threatened to kill him because of his sexual orientation.
Why is that important? For a number of reasons including the reason that it was time for a new special envoy to Iraq. 'Addressing' the issue in private is not addressing it. Helping Muhammed in private and telling everyone to be silent may assist Muhammed (largely in leaving Iraq) but does nothing to improve or truly address the situation in Iraq for other LGBT-ers (or those suspected of being LGBT). As the assaults on the LGBT community became one of the biggest issues in Iraq, not only was the UN repeatedly practicing a position of silence but, in their silence, encouraged the continued discrimination. The UN's recent decision to treat LGBT rights as they do other human rights is part of a continued examination within the UN of this issue. The report, as is, would not have been published with the special envoy remaining. Specifically, the section we quoted would not have made it into the report. As noted in Friday's snapshot, Martin Kobler will be UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's new special envoy to Iraq.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Amazon workers hired under their veteran hired program
WHAT: Senator Murray will speak at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle to highlight her Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, a bill that will require job skills training for
service members, create new pathways to private sector and federal employment
WHEN: Wednesday, August 10th
10:30 AM PT
WHERE: Amazon Headquarters
440 Terry Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
Last week, Senator Patty Murray's office issued the following news release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 (202) 224-2834
VETERANS SUICIDES: Senators Call on Nation's Governors to Begin Reporting Veterans Suicides to the VA in Order to Accurately Track National Crisis, Improve Prevention Efforts
Letter focuses on the need for 41 states that do not currently communicate information about veterans suicides to begin tracking and reporting
(Washington, D.C.) -- U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, has joined with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) to call on state Governors to begin reporting critical statistics on suicides among military veterans in their states. The effort, which comes amid a steadily rising suicide rate among veterans and members of the military, focuses on pushing 41 states to create a direct link to the VA to communicate information about veteran suicides. That information is particularly important for tracking and prevention efforts as many suicides among veterans not enrolled in the VA often go unrecorded.
"One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals," the Senators wrote. "In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care."
In addition to the National Governors Association the letter sent by the Senators also went to the National Association of Medical Examiners, which is the professional organization for medical examiners and death investigators who are responsible for investigating deaths that are violent, suspicious, or otherwise unusual.
The full text of the Senators' letter is below:
July 20, 2011
The Honorable Dave Heineman
Chair, National Governors Association
444 North Capitol Street
Washington, DC 20001-1512
Dear Governor Heineman:
As you know, there has been a disturbing rise in suicide rates among veterans and members of the military. We are sure you find this trend as troubling as we do. As we continue our work to provide all the needed resources and services to assist servicemembers and veterans with mental health concerns, we ask for your assistance in this effort.
One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals. In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care. This makes it very difficult for researchers and mental health professionals to study the information and design effective, targeted campaigns to prevent suicide.
This is a result of the fact that only 16 states provide information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System. VA has also been working with the states to create a direct link between the states and VA to communicate information about veteran suicide, but so far only nine states have reached such an agreement with the Department.
We understand that many states have efforts underway to address this problem. It is important to ensure that these efforts are completed quickly. Further, with respect to the states which have not yet begun such efforts, we must encourage those governors to see that their states begin working with VA to reach an agreement and provide this information directly to the Department. As you know, these arrangements will be very beneficial as they will allow VA to utilize the timeliest data to improve the efficacy of suicide prevention efforts.
Thank you for your assistance, we look forward to working with you on behalf of the nation's veterans.
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