A New President and a New Opportunity to Restore US Respect for Human Rights

November 5th, 2008 - by admin

Human Rights First & Larry Cox, Executive Director / Amnesty International – 2008-11-05 22:23:02


HRF Calls on President Elect Obama
To Make Restoring US Commitment
To Human Rights a Top Priority

Human Rights First.org

• Human Rights First Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Elisa Massimino speaks about the election of Barack Obama as President of the United Sates and what it means for restoring our nation’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law.
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NEW YORK, NY (November 5, 2008) — 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.”

A Historic Election: A Chance for Change
Larry Cox, Executive Director / Amnesty International USA

Waking up this morning was like waking up to a new era. That’s because many of us remember a time when activities were segregated by race, whether going to the movies or riding a bus.

And then yesterday, the biggest racial barrier in American politics was annihilated. By record margins, America elected Barack Obama the first African-American president of the United States.

Hope overcame fear. Ordinary citizens mobilized to change the future. This is the heart of Amnesty International. Since 1961, we’ve held out hope for those enduring injustice, when all hope was lost. And through the power of your collective actions, hundreds of thousands now enjoy greater freedom and a safer, more just world.

A record 131 million people cast their vote and exercised one of the most fundamental of human rights. But as Barack Obama said last night,

“This victory alone is not the change we seek–it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.”

We have a great opportunity. The world faces overwhelming human rights crises. But with your help, we can turn this country’s policies on human rights back in the direction of alleviating, and not contributing, to these crises.

President-elect Obama has promised to restore the rule of law, to repair America’s damaged perception in the world, to close Guantánamo, and to renounce torture.

These promises bring hope. In the coming days, we will need you to help make those promises a reality.