#DearObama: 3 Steps to Advance Rights of Women and Girls in Your State of the Union

U.S. President Barack Obama (C), joined by (L-R) Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State Deborah Parker, Attorney General Eric Holder, Vice President Joseph Biden, trafficking survivor Tysheena Rhames, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Director of Public Policy of Casa de Esperanza Rosemary Hidalgo-McCabe, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Police Chief James Johnson of Baltimore County in Maryland, and Executive Director of New York City Anti-Violence Project Police Department Sharon Stapel, signs the Violence Against Women Act into law at the Department of the Interior March 7, 2013 in Washington, DC. The law expands protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Obama, , joined by Vice Chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State Deborah Parker, trafficking survivor Tysheena Rhames, Police Chief James Johnson of Baltimore County in Maryland, and Executive Director of New York City Anti-Violence Project Police Department Sharon Stapel, and members of Congress and his adminstration, signs the Violence Against Women Act into law March 7, 2013. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.

Dear Mr. President,

This State of the Union, will you make women’s rights a priority?

Women across the world—including here in the U.S.—experience horrific levels of violence. 1 of 3 women globally will be raped, beaten, or otherwise abused in their lifetime, and you, Mr. President, can help end this epidemic.

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Moving On From the Mountain: The Continuing Crisis in Northern Iraq

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

While extensive media attention has been paid to the plight of those who were under siege on Sinjar Mountain, the broader crisis in north-western Iraq continues.

Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Advisor is currently on the ground, collecting and sharing eyewitness accounts of the crisis. In many ways, the plight of those who were stranded on Sinjar helped focus international attention to the broader crisis.

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War Crimes Committed in the Battle for Mosul

Iraqis forced to flee fighting in Mosul seek shelter in camps for internally displaced people. (Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Iraqis forced to flee fighting in Mosul seek shelter in camps for internally displaced people (Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images).

By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International from Mosul, Iraq

Long lines of cars full of terrified families jammed the road as I left Mosul on June 25. The mass exodus is testament to the affect on civilians since fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took control of the city.

As we headed east towards Erbil, militants from ISIS were indiscriminately shelling Hamdanyah, home to some of Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities.

All sides are committing war crimes in the raging battle for control of Iraqi territory and resources.

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Iraq’s Crisis: 3 Quick Points for U.S. Policymakers

Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on June 17 (Photo Credit: Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on June 17 (Photo Credit: Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

As the latest crisis in Iraq unfolds, here are three basic points for U.S. policymakers to keep in mind:

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Time Running Out for Man Sentenced to Death in Iraq

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By Said Haddadi, Amnesty International Iraq Researcher

Osama Jamal Abdallah Mahdi, a 32-year-old father of two, has now spent more than two years on death row in Iraq for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

His uncle is now his only hope. From his home in Wichita, Kansas more than 6,000 miles away, Musadik Mahdi is spearheading a campaign for his nephew’s release.

The Iraqi-born engineer has contacted Congressmen, diplomats, the media and NGOs, including Amnesty International, in an attempt to get Osama’s conviction overturned. And time is running out – Musadik fears that Osama could be dragged to the gallows any day now.

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The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Amnesty’s Death Penalty Report

Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. Although 2013 saw more executions than in previous years and several countries resuming executions, there was also progress towards abolition in all regions of the world. Below, see the top 10 things you need to know from our newest report:

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5 Death Penalty Myths Debunked

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In advance of the release of our 2014 Global Death Penalty Report tomorrow, here are 5 of the most common misconceptions about the death penalty.

MYTH #1
The death penalty deters violent crime and makes society safer.

FACT
There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.

More than three decades after abolishing the death penalty, Canada’s murder rate remains over one third lower than it was in 1976.

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ACT NOW: Don’t Let the U.S. Hide Shocking Details About CIA Torture

Khaled al-Maqtari (Photo Credit: Private).

Khaled al-Maqtari (Photo Credit: Private).

There are some things we do know about U.S. torture practices.

What we don’t yet know is whether the U.S. Government will ever come clean about the torture of detainees since 9/11.

In the next 7 days, we have an opportunity to win a major, historic victory against torture.

Our sources tell us that shocking, unreported details about CIA torture after 9/11 are in danger of being marked “classified” forever – when we know that it is only by shedding light on the darkest periods of our history that we are able to move forward with integrity.

Lawmakers are deciding as early as next week whether to make these details public. We have 7 days to flood the switchboards.

Help ensure that the U.S. Government does not use torture – in our names and with our tax dollars – ever again. Call your Senator now.

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BREAKING: Abdullah al-Qahtani Again Under Imminent Threat of Execution

532069_10151342611886363_1783006419_nThere has been a horrendous, sudden spike in executions in Iraq.

Sources indicate that Abdullah al-Qahtani is once again under imminent threat of execution.

Your immediate action could spare his life.

Abdullah is one of six men who were reportedly tortured into confessing to murder and terrorism.

He was initially detained for immigration violations. Abdullah’s attorneys say they have compelling evidence of his innocence. He deserves to have his evidence heard by a court in a fair trial.

Last year, after four of his co-defendants were executed, Abdullah could have been executed at any time – but his life was spared.

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