Human Rights First Statement on the Fifth Anniversary of September 11

Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We join with others in this country and around the world in commemorating the tragic loss of almost 3000 innocent people, and in expressing our condolences to their families.

As we mark this anniversary we also stop to reflect on all that has changed in our world. Today al Qaeda and other violent groups continue to pose a profound threat to global security. Governments, including the U.S. government have the right and indeed a duty to protect people from attack.

Over the last five years the United States has taken a number of measures to protect national security. Many of these changes are prudent and sensible. Initiatives like the continued efforts to reorganize the intelligence community and to provide training to local law enforcement are reasonable and necessary measures. And they are rights neutral.

But the post 9/11 world also has been defined by dramatic changes in the relationship between the United States and the people it serves. These changes have seriously undermined deeply engrained structures of American democracy – civil liberties and human rights. Particularly troubling has been the administration’s approach to security detentions and interrogations – an approach that places unprecedented powers in the hands of the Executive, and violates core human rights standards.

Today these issues continue to be very prominent in our public debate. Human Rights First has and will continue to weigh in on these important subjects, confident that a robust public debate will help advance policies that promote both national security and human rights.

As we and others have noted in the past, the United States’ retreat from well-established legal principles over the last five years has weakened international human rights standards and impairs its ability to promote democracy and human rights abroad. As we commemorate this anniversary, it is the time for the United States to recommit itself to restore these bedrock principles and to reclaim its role as the world leader in the struggle for human rights.

For further information on Human Rights First’s work on these issues click here.


Published on September 8, 2006


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