Connect with us

World

Biden Threatens Financial, Visa Sanctions Against Nigeria, Others Over Anti-gay Laws

Published

on

Biden anti gay law
Spread the love

Biden Threatens Financial, Visa Sanctions Against Nigeria, Others Over Anti-gay Laws

President Joe Biden has issued a presidential memorandum aimed at expanding protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people worldwide, including potentially through the use of financial sanctions.

Nigeria’s anti-gay laws have been increasingly criticised by global rights groups, which have categorised the country as overtly homophobic.

Despite international pressure, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in January 2014, prescribing between 10 to 14 years in prison for cohabitation between same-sex sexual partners, public show of same-sex relationship, registration, operation or participation in gay clubs, societies and organisation, amongst others.

As a predominantly conservative country, it is unlikely that Nigeria would revisit its anti-gay marriage law to strengthen bilateral relations with the United States.

However, the Biden Presidency threatens” “swift and meaningful” responses, including financial sanctions against countries found guilty of human rights abuses of LGBTQI+ persons.

The memo warned: “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”

“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” said the memorandum, building on a 2011 directive issued when Biden was serving as vice president.

“The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle – speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values.”

Biden campaigned on a pledge to pass LGBTQ rights legislation known as the Equality Act in the first 100 days of his administration and make LGBTQ rights a top priority.

The memo directs US agencies working abroad to work harder to combat the criminalisation by foreign governments of LGBTQ status or conduct, and directs the State Department to include anti-LGBTQ violence, discrimination and laws in its annual human rights report.

It calls for increased efforts to ensure that LGBTQ asylum seekers have equal access to protection, expanded training for US federal personnel, and potential increased use of priority referrals to expedite resettlement of vulnerable people.

It also instructs agencies to consider appropriate responses, including the full range of diplomatic tools, and potentially financial sanctions and visa restrictions, when foreign governments restrict the rights of LGBTQ people.

Biden announced the push during a forceful speech at the State Department, vowing to rebuild US credibility worldwide.

“To further repair our moral leadership, I’m also issuing a presidential memo to agencies to reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBTQI issues and do it internationally,” he said.

ALSO READ:  Trump Impeachment: The U.S. Senate has acquited President Trump on charges labelled against him

Below is the full statement by Biden:

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

This memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons). That memorandum, for the first time, directed executive departments and agencies (agencies) engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons everywhere. This memorandum builds upon that historic legacy and updates the 2011 memorandum.

All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love. Around the globe, including here at home, brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights. The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values. It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world.

Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons. Specifically, I direct the following actions, consistent with applicable law:

Section 1. Combating Criminalization of LGBTQI+ Status or Conduct Abroad. Agencies engaged abroad are directed to strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct and expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct. The Department of State shall, on an annual basis and as part of the annual report submitted to the Congress pursuant to sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d) and 2304(b)), report on human rights abuses experienced by LGBTQI+ persons globally. This reporting shall include anti-LGBTQI+ laws as well as violence and discrimination committed by both state and nonstate actors against LGBTQI+ persons.

Sec. 2. Protecting Vulnerable LGBTQI+ Refugees and Asylum Seekers. LGBTQI+ persons who seek refuge from violence and persecution face daunting challenges. In order to improve protection for LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers at all stages of displacement, the Departments of State and Homeland Security shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure that LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers have equal access to protection and assistance, particularly in countries of first asylum. In addition, the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security shall ensure appropriate training is in place so that relevant Federal Government personnel and key partners can effectively identify and respond to the particular needs of LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers, including by providing to them adequate assistance and ensuring that the Federal Government takes all appropriate steps, such as potential increased use of Embassy Priority-1 referrals, to identify and expedite resettlement of highly vulnerable persons with urgent protection needs.

Sec. 3. Foreign Assistance to Protect Human Rights and Advance Nondiscrimination. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs shall expand their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector to promote respect for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and combat discrimination. Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs should consider the impact of programs funded by the Federal Government on human rights, including the rights of LGBTQI+ persons, when making funding decisions, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law.

Sec. 4. Swift and Meaningful United States Responses to Human Rights Abuses of LGBTQI+ Persons Abroad. The Department of State shall lead a standing group, with appropriate interagency representation, to help ensure the Federal Government’s swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons abroad. When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.

Sec. 5. Building Coalitions of Like-Minded Nations and Engaging International Organizations in the Fight Against LGBTQI+ Discrimination. Bilateral relationships with allies and partners, as well as multilateral fora and international organizations, are key vehicles to promote respect for and protection of the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and to bring global attention to these goals. Agencies engaged abroad should strengthen the work they have done and initiate additional efforts with other nations, bilaterally and within multilateral fora and international organizations, to: counter discrimination on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct; broaden the number of countries willing to support and defend the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons; strengthen the role, including in multilateral fora, of civil society advocates on behalf of the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons; and strengthen the policies and programming of multilateral institutions, including with respect to protecting vulnerable LGBTQI+ refugees and asylum seekers.

Sec. 6. Rescinding Inconsistent Policies and Reporting on Progress. Within 100 days of the date of this memorandum or as soon as possible thereafter, all agencies engaged abroad shall review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take steps to rescind any directives, orders, regulations, policies, or guidance inconsistent with this memorandum, including those issued from January 20, 2017, to January 20, 2021, to the extent that they are inconsistent with this memorandum. The heads of such agencies shall also, within 100 days of the date of this memorandum, report to the President on their progress in implementing this memorandum and recommend additional opportunities and actions to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world. Agencies engaged abroad shall each prepare a report within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, and annually thereafter, on their progress toward advancing these initiatives. All such agencies shall submit these reports to the Department of State, which will compile a report on the Federal Government’s progress in advancing these initiatives for transmittal to the President. The Department of State shall make a version of the compiled annual report available to the Congress and the public.

Sec. 7. Definitions. (a) For the purposes of this memorandum, agencies engaged abroad include the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.

(b) For the purposes of this memorandum, agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development programs include the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, USAID, DFC, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and such other agencies as the President may designate.

Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(d) The Secretary of State is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

Saharareporters.com

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

World

U.S. Intelligence Reports Says Mohammed bin Salman Approved Khashoggi’s Murder

Published

on

By

U.S. Intelligence Reports Says Mohammed bin Salman Approved Khashoggi's Murder
Spread the love

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of U.S.-based journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, according to a declassified report released by the Biden administration on Friday.

The report, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), said the crown prince, the kingdom’s de facto leader, “approved an operation … to capture or kill” Khashoggi.

“We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decisionmaking in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi,” the report said.

“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization,” it continued.

The four-page report’s release was highly anticipated and is part of President Biden’s strategy to “recalibrate” the relationship with Saudi Arabia, where he has committed to emphasize democratic values and human rights in Washington’s dealings with Riyadh.

“For too long, the United States failed to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the brutal murder of journalist, dissident, and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in statement Friday. “I’m encouraged to see the new administration taking steps to rectify that by releasing this long-overdue congressionally mandated report into his killing.”

The report was released the day after Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. A White House statement on the call did not mention Khashoggi or the report, but said the president “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law.”

On Wednesday, Biden said he had read the report, without elaborating.

ALSO READ:  SEE PHOTOS OF ROAD IN FRANCE THAT DISAPPEARS UNDERWATER TWICE A DAY.

Asked Friday whether Biden raised Khashoggi with the king, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to elaborate on the call, but stressed to reporters that officials “at every level” have publicly raised concerns about human rights abuses.

Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad, including a bone saw-wielding forensic doctor, in October 2018 while he was at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents for a marriage license. Turkish authorities have said he was strangled soon after entering the consulate and dismembered.

The report’s release Friday was paired with an announcement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken of visa restrictions against 76 Saudi individuals believed to be engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to those connected to Khashoggi’s murder.

“While the United States remains invested in its relationship with Saudi Arabia, President Biden has made clear that partnership must reflect U.S. values,” Blinken said in a statement. “To that end, we have made absolutely clear that extraterritorial threats and assaults by Saudi Arabia against activists, dissidents, and journalists must end. They will not be tolerated by the United States.”

Called the “Khashoggi ban,” the visa restrictions can be imposed on any individual believed to be directed by a foreign government to seriously harass and threaten people perceived as dissidents.

The Treasury Department also announced sanctions on Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, Saudi Arabia’s former deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, who the department said was “assigned to murder” Khashoggi and was the “ringleader” of the operation.

Treasury also slapped sanctions on Saudi Arabia’s Rapid Intervention Force, Crown Prince Mohammed’s elite personal protective detail whose members were part of the hit squad. But the sanctions notably did not target the crown prince himself.

The report on Friday listed the names of 21 individuals U.S. intelligence officials have “high confidence … participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for” Khashoggi’s murder “on behalf of” Crown Prince Mohammed. Still, it says the United States can’t confirm if the individuals knew the operation would result in the journalist’s death.

ALSO READ:  Pakistan’s follow-up action on terror tag for Taliban leader is an invite for talks

The report highlighted that members of the hit team included officials linked to the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs, whose leader publicly said in 2018 he did not make decisions without the crown prince’s approval.

The team also included seven members of Crown Prince Mohammed’s elite personal protective detail, who the U.S. officials “judge would not have participated in the operation against Khashoggi without Muhammad bin Salman’s approval,” the report said.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who represents the Virginia district where Khashoggi resided, called for a “reevaluation” of the U.S. and Saudi relationship in the wake of the crown prince’s responsibility.

“This report lays the blame for the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, my constituent, directly at the feet of the Crown Prince. Saudi Arabia must be held accountable, and that demands a careful and complete re-evaluation of the US relationship with the Kingdom,” Connolly said in a statement. “It is a dark stain on the Trump administration that they were willing to keep this report from the American people in order to protect its relationships with the Crown Prince over and above basic American values and Jamal’s life itself.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a U.S. organization founded by Khashoggi shortly before his murder, said the report’s release helps confirm previously reported details.

“At minimum, certainly this information is really just further confirmation of what we all know — and that is that Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal, our founder,” she said.

ALSO READ:  Five among the senators took a knee during the long moment of silence.

Whitson said DAWN is likely to include the ODNI report in its own civil suit against the crown prince, which was filed with Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia and seeks monetary damages.

Whitson added the report’s release serves as a warning against such brazen violent actions.

“It is an important warning and we hope an important measure of deterrence against other despots who think they can go around the world killing people they don’t like in foreign countries,” she said.

Biden has already taken actions shifting the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, in part over Khashoggi’s murder and supported by Congress. They include ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, as well as relevant weapons sales to the kingdom.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, urged the Biden administration to follow the report’s release with “serious repercussions against all of the responsible parties it has identified, and also reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

“We must ensure that if foreign governments target journalists simply for doing their jobs, they are not immune to serious repercussions and sanctions, because restoring confidence in American leadership requires we act in accordance with the values that have long set America apart,” Schiff said. “The administration should take further steps to diminish the United States’s reliance on Riyadh and reinforce that our partnership with the Kingdom is not a blank check.”

The State Department on Friday is reportedly expected to announce further restrictions on offensive weapons to the kingdom.

Still, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stressed after the report’s release that Saudi Arabia “remains a strategic partner in the region.” He declined to comment on the ODNI report itself, describing it as outside the purview of the Defense Department.

Continue Reading

World

President Biden Orders Air Strikes On Iranian Backed Militias In Syria

Published

on

By

President Biden Orders Air Strikes On Iranian Backed Militias In Syria
Spread the love

The US military struck a site in Syria on Thursday used by two Iranian-backed militia groups following rocket attacks on American forces in the region in the past two weeks,” CNN reports.

“The strikes mark the military’s first known action under President Joe Biden. The site was not specifically tied to the rocket attacks, but were believed to be used by Iranian-backed Shia militias operating in the region.”
The U.S. military carried out an airstrike against an Iranian-backed militia stronghold in Syria Thursday, a senior official told Fox News.

In the first known military action by President Biden, multiple facilities were struck by American F15 fighter jets that targeted Iraqi border-based Shia militia groups, Kait’ib Hezbollah and Kait’ib Sayyid al Shuhada.

ALSO READ:  Pakistan’s follow-up action on terror tag for Taliban leader is an invite for talks

Both forces are suspected of having received funding and military support from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

The senior official said the strike was “shot across the bow” and a defensive strategy, intended to deter Iran and its militia from launching rockets at U.S. forces in the region, like the recent attacks in Iraq.

The Defense Department later confirmed the strikes.

“These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Thursday.

Two rockets landed within the U.S.’s Green Zone in Baghdad Monday, falling near the U.S. embassy and marking the third attack of its kind within a week.

ALSO READ:  Saudi Arabia ends a loan and associated oil supply to Pakistan following threats to split OIC

The Green Zone is several miles wide and houses the U.S. embassy and other government buildings.

Though Monday’s strike reported no causalities, a rocket fired in Erbil, Iraq last week killed several people, including an American service member and several American contractors.

“We are outraged by the recent attacks,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday.

“When it comes to our response, we will respond in a way that is calculated, within our own timetable, and using a mix of tools at a time and place of our choosing,” he added. “What will not do is lash out and risk an escalation that plays into the hands of Iran and contributes to their attempts to further destabilize Iraq.”

ALSO READ:  Five among the senators took a knee during the long moment of silence.

The Pentagon said the defensive strike Thursday was conducted with diplomatic support and in coordination with coalition partners.

The airstrike was was timed to avoid large scale casualties and targeted a command hub. The extent of the damage and casualities hit will be known after a bomb assessment is complete, security officials told Fox News.

“The operation sends an unambiguous message — President Biden will act to protect American coalition personnel,” Kirby told reporters Thursday.

“At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to deescalate the overall situation in both Eastern Syria and Iraq,” he added.

Continue Reading

World

See Trump’s Statement After Being Acquitted By The Senate

Published

on

By

See Trump's Statement After Being Acquitted By The Senate
US Ex President Donald Trump
Spread the love

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S STATEMENT AFTER BEING ACQUITTED BY THE SENATE.

I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth.

My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.

Our cherished Constitutional Republic was founded on the impartial rule of law, the indispensable safeguard for our liberties, our rights and our freedoms.

It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree. I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.

I also want to convey my gratitude to the millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding, God-and-Country loving citizens who have bravely supported these important principles in these very difficult and challenging times.

Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!

We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future.

Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

We remain one People, one family, and one glorious nation under God, and it’s our responsibility to preserve this magnificent inheritance for our children and for generations of Americans to come.

May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America.

My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere

ALSO READ:  Trump declares state of emergency in DC ahead of Biden’s inauguration
Continue Reading

Trending