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Monday 8 July 2019

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced the formation of a human rights panel that will review the role of human rights in American foreign policy.

Pompeo said on July 8 that the Commission on Unalienable Rights will be headed by Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Pompeo said the bipartisan commission includes human rights experts, philosophers, and activists from varied backgrounds.

"Every once in a while we need to step back and reflect seriously on where we are, where we’ve been, and whether we’re headed in the right direction," Pompeo said at the State Department.

He praised the 1948 Declaration on Universal Human Rights as one of the foundational documents for the commission’s work and said that it would provide him with advice on human rights issues.

Amnesty International criticized the move and accused the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump of undermining rights for individuals and the responsibilities of governments.

"This administration has actively worked to deny and take away long-standing human rights protections since Trump's inauguration," Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government affairs at Amnesty International USA, said on July 8.

With reporting by Politico and AP
A poster for this year's planned Pride Parade in Tbilisi, which was initially canceled before a small group of activists managed to hold a short rally in the Georgian capital.

TBILISI -- Activists in Georgia say they managed to hold a small gay pride parade in the capital, Tbilisi, on July 8.

Pride co-leader Giorgi Tabagari said on Twitter "Tbilisi Pride has finally happened."

"Smaller in numbers but we managed to get out safely. History in making!" he added.

About two dozen protesters, including human rights activists and members of the LGBT community, protested outside the Interior Ministry while holding signs and rainbow flags.

The rally lasted only 30 minutes amid reports that extremist groups were on their way to disperse protesters.

Earlier, organizers had said that the event had been cancelled.

Reports suggest the planned route of the march was leaked online, raising security concerns among members of Georgia's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Pride co-leader Giorgi Tabagari told journalists that the decision to cancel the parade was made after threats against would-be marchers.

"We will not hold our action near the Interior Ministry's building due to threats to members of our organization," Tabagari said.

Tabagari later said on Twitter that activists flew a rainbow flag over a protest by those opposing the pride event.

"We were not allowed to go out today for the Pride March, we flew the rainbow flag over homophobic protest in #Tbilisi," Tabagari said in a tweet that included a photo of the rainbow flag.

Georgia’s highly influential Orthodox Church had criticized plans by LGBT activists to carry out the march, saying in a June 14 statement that the LGBT lifestyle was a "sin" that goes "against the Christian faith, traditional religious teachings, and moral values."

The Pride March had been originally planned for June 22 but organizers postponed it after a violent police crackdown against anti-Russian political protesters in the capital.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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