Fighting For Human Rights

In late 2018, Senators Tillis and Coons introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish the John McCain Human Rights Commission, in honor of the late Senator McCain. This would create a bipartisan commission to examine human rights violations through regular hearings and briefings and promote human rights initiatives in the Senate. Thom was also selected to serve on the Helsinki Commission, an independent government agency that is comprised of members of Congress and Administration officials. The Helsinki Commission has focused on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms like the freedom of thought, religion, and the press.

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Below are a Number of Human Rights Priorities Thom has Advocated for

  • Introducing the Bipartisan Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act

    Thom partnered with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation that ensures that the U.S. government works in a coordinated manner using its full range of tools, including diplomatic, political, financial, and intelligence capabilities, to provide early warnings about at-risk communities and states in order to help prevent mass atrocities against civilians. The Senate unanimously passed the legislation in late 2018.
  • Recognizing the Critical Work of Human Rights Defenders

    Senators Tillis and Coons, co-chairs of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, introduced a resolution recognizing the critical work of human rights defenders in promoting human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and good governance. The resolution also condemns threats to human rights defenders, encourages all countries to recognize their duties to protect fundamental freedoms, and calls on the President and Secretary of State to maintain American leadership in promoting human rights. The Senate unanimously passed Thom’s resolution in late 2018.
  • Defending LGBTQ Rights in Chechnya

    Thom was an original cosponsor on a resolution condemning the violence and persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya and calling on the American government to hold Russia and individual perpetrators accountable for these human rights abuses. The Senate unanimously passed this resolution on October 30, 2017.
  • Defending the Rohingya in Burma

    Thom has worked across the aisle to bring attention to the conditions of the Rohingya in Burma. Rohingya Muslims have faced historical persecution in Burma, including ethnic and religious discrimination. Widespread and unimaginable human rights violations have caused more than 168,000 Rohingya to flee Burma since 2012.
  • Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Turkey

    Thom has led efforts to shine a light on the threats to freedom of the press, religious minorities, and personal freedoms in Turkey, as well as options for policymakers who remain committed to the rule of law and continued cooperation between the United States and Turkey.

    Thom led efforts to secure the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a native of Black Mountain, North Carolina, from the custody of the Turkish government. For months, Thom led bipartisan efforts to apply pressure on the Turkish government, including introducing legislation that would limit the sale of F-35 aircraft to Turkey, and sending a letter to the President of Turkey, co-signed by more than 70 senators, warning that Congress would take action if Turkey continues to wrongfully detain American citizens.
  • Assessing Electoral Progress in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    In response to repeated delays of DRC’s elections and President Joseph Kabila’s failure to step down at the end of his constitutional term in 2016, the Senate Human Rights Caucus held a briefing to discuss steps that need to be taken to ensure free and fair elections.
  • Advancing Human Rights in Iran

    While the Iranian regime has a pattern of oppression and denial of basic human rights, the Iranian people have bravely and peacefully taken to the streets to express their rejection of authoritarianism. The Senate Human Rights Caucus held a briefing to highlight ways in which the United States can work to hold Iran accountable for their human rights abuses.