HRF Calls on President Elect Obama to Make Restoring U.S. Commitment to Human Rights a Top Priority

New York, NY – The new administration will have its work cut out to restore the United States to a position of leadership in promoting and defending human rights, said a leading human rights group.


“The erosion of human rights protections in the United States in the aftermath of September 11th has had a profound impact on human rights standards around the world,” said Elisa Massimino, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Human Rights First. “We urge President-elect Obama promptly to turn the page on the policies of torture and other abuse that have deprived the United States of its ability to lead on human rights for the past seven years.”


In the course of his campaign, President-elect Obama called for an end to the Bush administration’s policies sanctioning official cruelty, rendition, and prolonged detention without charge or trial. He has committed to closing the Guantanamo detention camp and reviewing the cases of the prisoners held there. During the primary season, President-Elect Obama met with a group of retired senior military leaders, convened by Human Rights First, to discuss the role of the next Commander in Chief in ensuring that interrogation and prisoner treatment policies are consistent with the welfare of the military and with American laws, values and interests.


Human Rights First has issued two blueprints for the next administration to chart a return to the rule of law, each setting forth a detailed, multi-stage strategy for addressing some of the most pressing human issues President-elect Obama will face. The two blueprints, How to Close Guantanamo and How to End Torture and Other Cruelty, are the first in a planned series, which will also take on issues such as private security contractors and Iraqi refugees.


“Vice President Cheney once attempted to justify the Bush administration’s blatant disregard for the rule of law as ‘the new normal.’ The Obama administration must act decisively to prove that prognosis wrong” Massimino said. “The world will be watching what we do.”



Published on November 5, 2008


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