Dear Members of the U.S. Congress:
We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our support for the Global Voices of Freedom Act (S.962), which Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez introduced earlier this year along with Senators Ben Cardin, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Coons, and Chris Murphy.
Our organizations work internationally on a range of issues that contribute to a more just, secure, and democratic world. Our work depends on the ability of our local partners to safely advocate in their home countries for reforms that advance peace, human rights, democracy, development, civic space, religious freedom, and an end to corruption. Yet many of our partners and other local reformers are facing attacks on their personal safety.
As the United States scales up its effort to counter the rise of repressive regimes, it is in its national interest to support the courageous individuals – commonly referred to as human rights defenders – who risk their lives to advocate for reforms in their home countries.
Attacks on human rights defenders have skyrocketed. Sophisticated surveillance technology is being used to identify and target these individuals – including those living in exile – and subject them to coercion, illegal rendition, and even direct attacks. Many are facing harassment, surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture, and threats to their families and friends. Many have paid the ultimate price for speaking truth to power.