(Washington, D.C.) – This week Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a resolution calling for the establishment of a Senate commission on human rights. The resolution would create a Senate body comparable to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission  in the House of Representatives which works to “promote, defend, and advocate” for human rights within the various roles and responsibilities of Congress. PEN America congratulates Senators Coons and Tillis as well as their cosponsors for their continued efforts to bolster human rights worldwide, and hopes that the Senate will agree to the speedy creation of this commission at a critical moment for human rights around the world. 

“The creation of such a commission would provide an important forum for senators to stay abreast of critical human rights issues worldwide, at a time when too many governments have been exploiting the pandemic to restrict the rights and liberties of their citizens,” said Thomas O. Melia, Washington director of PEN America. “As freedom of expression and other fundamental rights are under assault, this proposed commission will enable all Senators to be well informed and proactive in raising human rights concerns—with the executive branch and with foreign governments as well. We hope the introduction of this resolution marks another important step toward a strong, institutionalized, and bipartisan approach to placing human rights at the center of  American foreign policy.”