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Letter sign-on: Allow civil society to submit new supplemental reports for the UPR

Dear XXX,

The undersigned civil society organizations request an opportunity to provide supplements to submissions made to the 36th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, tentatively scheduled for November 2 to 13, 2020. In order for civil society contributions to meaningfully support the work of the Human Rights Council, we also request that the supplemental submissions be summarized and published by the UPR Secretariat and shared as an addendum to the summary of stakeholders' information.

On March 20, 2020, the Bureau of the Human Rights Council decided to postpone the 36th session of the Working Group, which was scheduled to take place May 4 to 15, 2020. The decision was made because “of the spread of COVID-19 and the emergency measures that have been taken by affected countries worldwide, including the host country, Switzerland.”

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Asia Justice Coalition Statement - Rohingya at sea

The Asia Justice Coalition – a network of organizations that have come together to focus on international justice and accountability in Asia – expresses its grave concern at the plight of Rohingya refugees stranded at sea.

Currently, it is estimated that there are two boats with more than 500 refugees that are being denied permission to disembark and have been ‘pushed back’ at sea by Malaysia. On 16 April 2020, nearly 400 Rohingya refugees who were adrift at sea, and denied sanctuary in Malaysia were permitted to disembark in Bangladesh. The situation is again critical now, with the grave threat of loss of life.

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Global Submission to US Commission on Unalienable Rights

Dear U.S. State Department Commission on Unalienable Rights:

As human rights organizations, scholars, defenders and activists, we the 167 undersigned, write to express our grave concern about the work of the U.S. State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights and any potential report or output that undermines the international human rights system and purports to reinterpret its respective treaties and monitoring bodies. In particular, we urge the Commission to reject the prioritization of freedom of religion as a cloak to permit violations of the human rights of women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Now more than ever, countries worldwide should prioritize the rights to health and well-being of all their people without discrimination and recognize that reproductive rights are clearly established and articulated under international law. These rights are interrelated and indivisible from all human rights and cannot be subordinated within a hierarchy of rights.

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Joint CSO letter to UNSC on participation & transparency

Excellency,

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, write to you as human rights, humanitarian, development and peacebuilding organisations that actively and regularly contribute to the work of the UN Security Council. We write to you at this time to raise concerns around the transparency of the work of the Security Council and obstacles to the effective participation of civil society in its work due to recent changes to the working methods of the Council in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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MISP Letter to Acting Administrator O'Connell

Dear Acting Assistant Secretary O’Connell,

As members of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises (IAWG) we are writing to thank the U.S. government for its emergency response and humanitarian assistance to the COVID-19 global pandemic and to inquire about the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health supplies and services.

We appreciate PRM’s long-standing leadership in addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of people around the world through U.S. global health and humanitarian funding and programs. As you know, women and girls, and others who face stigma and discrimination, continue to have sexual and reproductive health needs even as crises unfold. These can include pregnancy, the desire to become pregnant, avoid unwanted pregnancy, avoid sexually transmitted infections, and prevent and respond to gender-based violence. During crises, some of these needs are more acute. We know that gender-based violence increases during crises and that gender-based violence increases the risk of acquiring HIV.

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MISP Letter to Acting Administrator Barsa

Dear Acting Administrator Barsa,

As members of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises (IAWG) we are writing to thank the U.S. government for its emergency response and humanitarian assistance to the COVID-19 global pandemic and to inquire about the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health supplies and services.

We appreciate USAID’s long-standing leadership in addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of people around the world through U.S. global health and humanitarian funding and programs. As you know, women and girls, and others who face stigma and discrimination, continue to have sexual and reproductive health needs even as crises unfold. These can include pregnancy, the desire to become pregnant, avoid unwanted pregnancy, avoid sexually transmitted infections, and prevent and respond to gender-based violence. During crises, some of these needs are more acute. We know that gender-based violence increases during crises and that gender-based violence increases the risk of acquiring HIV.

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Re: Request regarding Covid-19, Docket: FDA-2020-D-1106

Dear Dr. Woodcock,

We, the undersigned, respectfully request the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reconsider its limitation of the recently released Policy for Certain REMS Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (Docket FDA-2020-D-1106).

The policy waives certain Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) requirements – namely laboratory tests and imaging – but not others. The requirements that certain drugs must be dispensed in-person by certain medical professionals provides similar burdens and risks to patients and providers as the waived requirements. Therefore, we request that in-person dispensation requirements, specifically for mifepristone, be included in this policy as temporarily waived.

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Bangladesh: End Internet Blackout to Protect Public Health of Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities

(BANGKOK, April 2, 2020)—The Government of Bangladesh should immediately take all necessary steps to protect Rohingya refugees and nearby host communities in Cox’s Bazar District from COVID-19 infection, said Fortify Rights and 49 human rights organizations in an open letter today. The authorities should immediately lift all restrictions that prevent Rohingya refugees from freely accessing mobile communications and the internet and also halt the construction of fencing aimed to confine Rohingya refugees in camps.

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Joint letter re: restrictions on communication, fencing and COVID-19 in Cox's Bazar District Rohingya refugee camps

Dear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,

As authorities around the world struggle to cope with the spread of COVID-19, it is crucial that States act to protect the most vulnerable, including refugee populations.

We, the 50 undersigned organizations, have welcomed the Bangladesh government’s efforts to host the Rohingya refugees who were forced to flee atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmar Army. We also commend the Bangladesh Government for working closely with the humanitarian community on COVID-19 preparedness and response in Cox’s Bazar District, including efforts to establish isolation and treatment facilities.

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FY 21 Healthy Youth Sign on Letter

Dear Chairman Blunt, Ranking Member Murray, Chairwoman DeLauro, and Ranking Member Cole:

The undersigned 109 organizations, committed to supporting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, request your support for fiscal year (FY) 2021 funding that helps to ensure the health of our nation’s youth. We urge you to protect the integrity of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and increase support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) school-based HIV and STI prevention efforts. We also encourage the elimination of the abstinence-only “sexual risk avoidance” competitive grant program.

Young people face barriers to accessing health information, education, and services, resulting in persistent inequity and health disparities. While a young person’s health and wellbeing is about more than just the absence of disease, or in the case of sexual health, the absence of HIV and other STIs, unintended pregnancy, or sexual violence, the adolescent data on these points alone, remain largely unchanged and alarming in recent years.

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International Family Planning & Reproductive Health Recommendations for the FY 2021 State-Foreign Operations Bill

Funding Request:  A total of $1.66 billion for family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs, both bilateral and multilateral, with funding provided from the Global Health Programs account and the Economic Support Fund and from the International Organizations and Programs account for a $111 million voluntary contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)—but no less than $1.030 billion, including $69 million for UNFPA, in order to provide the first installment of the funding increases necessary to incrementally achieve the $1.66 billion target over a five-year period.

Any increase in the FY 2021 appropriated level for FP/RH programs should not come at the expense of other poverty-focused development, global health, or women’s empowerment and gender equality programs. Funding for the overall international affairs budget to ensure ongoing U.S. leadership around the globe should be $60 billion in FY 2021, including at least $57.4 billion for the State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill—the FY 2017 enacted level.

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Recommendation for the FY 2021 State-Foreign Operations Bill: Deletion of the reiterations of the Helms Amendment

The following endorsing organizations respectfully request that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs remove the harmful and redundant reiterations of the Helms Amendment in the FY 2021 appropriations bill. 

The Helms Amendment prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.” This provision hurts millions of people around the world who live in areas that rely heavily on U.S. foreign assistance in order to fund health programs by restricting the ability of individuals to make their own personal medical decisions and access comprehensive reproductive health care. Furthermore, the Helms amendment has been over-implemented as a complete ban on U.S. funding for abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, or a life-endangering pregnancy. 

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Letter to UN Security Council members regarding Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry and the Provisional Measures ordered by the International Court of Justice

Your Excellency,

We are writing to you in light of the recently published summary of the final report of Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), which was issued the same week that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Myanmar to take immediate action to prevent genocide against the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority. In particular, we would like to raise grave concerns regarding the ICOE’s: (1) independence and impartiality; (2) methodology; and (3) flaws in narrative and findings.

The ICOE’s independence and impartiality have been seriously undermined by its reliance on the Office of the President of Myanmar for financial and technical support, as well as by the composition of the Commission itself, which includes at least one official directly implicated in the bulldozing of Rohingya villages damaged during the 2017 crisis in Rakhine State. The executive summary of the ICOE’s report also provides no information as to what sources and materials were relied upon beyond individual interviews, nor how the ICOE corroborated and verified this information, making it impossible to assess the quality of their methodology. Crucially, the ICOE did not interview a single Rohingya refugee in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, regarding the circumstances that resulted in over 700,000 people fleeing the country. Finally, there are serious flaws and misrepresentations in the ICOE’s narrative of the crisis in Rakhine State, including disturbing inaccuracies and omissions in relation to mass rape and widespread sexual violence directed at Rohingya women and girls during the military’s so-called “clearance operations.”

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Sign-on letter against State Dept's pregnancy and racial profiling rule

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We, the undersigned ​XX​ organizations, demand that you rescind the final regulation published Friday, January 24, 2020, in the Federal Register, Visas: Temporary Visas for Business or Pleasure, RIN: 1400-AE96. This regulation is an attack against immigrant women, particularly those of color, and with low incomes. The Department of State (“Department”) justifies these changes to temporary visas in the name of national security, when in reality they are thinly veiled racist and xenophobic attacks on the health, dignity, and well-being of immigrant women of color and their families. The consequences of this regulation will only stoke fear and confusion in immigrant communities who are already subject to the brutal whims of an administration that embraces blatantly discriminatory policies against immigrants and people of color.

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Sign-on letter condemning Trump-Pence administration's treatment of migrants at border detention camps

(Washington, DC) – As advocates for sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice, our vision of the world is built upon dismantling systems of power and oppression. We recognize that our work does not occur in a vacuum and must respond to injustices happening right now and, in particular, the humanitarian crisis at the United States’ southern border. This administration has cruelly separated thousands of migrant children and families, deported hundreds of parents without their children, abused migrant children in detention, and failed to reunite these families. As organizations, and as humans, we cannot live out our values if we remain silent on these atrocities.

We condemn the separation of families and the detention of children and families. We condemn the inhumane conditions of these border camps. We condemn the Trump-Pence administration’s callous, cruel policies and rhetoric. We condemn those in power who would rather stay silent or debate semantics while migrant families continue to die.

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Access to Contraception for Military Servicemembers

Dear Chairman Smith:

As organizations committed to protecting and improving reproductive health and rights, we write in support of the amendments offered by Representative Speier to the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act that would ensure that non-active duty servicemembers and military dependents have access to copay-free birth control, ensure access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault, and improve family planning education for servicemembers. These amendments would ensure that all servicemembers and their dependents who rely on the military for health care have improved access to comprehensive contraceptive coverage and family planning care.

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Open letter to SG for a credible list

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We are writing regarding your annual report on children and armed conflict and its annexes. As a diverse group of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working on alleviating humanitarian suffering and protecting human rights, we strongly support the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM). As a key tool for gathering timely, accurate, and credible information on grave violations of children’s rights, the MRM plays a vital role in informing the work of the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, as well as your annual list of child rights violators. The listing process serves as a foundation for the United Nations to engage with parties to conflict, secure concrete commitments through UN action plans, and create real change for children affected by war.

In order to preserve the integrity of the children and armed conflict agenda, we urge you to publish a complete and accurate list of perpetrators in your upcoming annual report.

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Coalition Sign-On Letter for House "Born Alive" Amendment

Dear Representatives,

We, the undersigned reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations, write in strong opposition to any attempts to interfere with evidence-based patient care and medical practice, such as the amendment Rep. Scalise filed with the Rules Committee to amend H.R. 986. S

The potential House vote is the latest in a series of anti-choice political stunts that are clearly intended to capitalize on the false and inflammatory rhetoric surrounding abortion later in pregnancy. President Trump used his bully pulpit to spread misinformation, shame women who need abortion care later in pregnancy, and attack healthcare providers committed to providing their patients with quality, evidence-based health care when they are making the most difficult decisions. Women and families in these situations deserve our compassion and support – not our judgment and certainly not politicians telling them what to do.

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Coallition Letter Opposing the Nomination of Robert Destro for Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Dear Chairman Risch, Ranking Member Menendez, and Members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:

We, the undersigned __ human rights and civil society organizations, write to express grave concerns about Professor Robert A. Destro, nominated by President Trump on January 16, 2019, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. If confirmed, Prof. Destro would head the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) which leads U.S. government efforts to promote democracy, protect human rights and international religious freedom, and advance labor rights globally. Prof. Destro’s record evinces a strong hostility to the health and human rights of women, girls, and LGBTI individuals. We do not believe that a nominee with this record should be confirmed to lead the State Department’s Bureau dedicated to protecting, defending, and promoting the human rights of all persons around the world, especially members of vulnerable communities like women, girls, and LGBTI persons. We strongly urge you to oppose his confirmation based the clear conflict between his record and the Bureau’s mission.

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NGO Joint Letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Excellency,

We write to welcome your initiative to review United Nations operations in Myanmar, and to strongly urge you ensure that the review is open, transparent and that its findings and recommendations are made public. Given the gravity of the abuses in Myanmar, the review offers an important opportunity to establish “whether everything possible to prevent or mitigate the unfolding crises was done, identifying lessons learned and good practices, making recommendations as appropriate, including on accountability, and enabling more effective work in the future”, as recommended by the International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.1

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