Monday, December 14, 2009

Amnesty International, Responding to Secretary Clinton's Human Rights Address, Urges Accountability at Home

/PRNewswire/ -- Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox issued the following statement in response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's address today at Georgetown University outlining the Obama administration's human rights agenda for the 21st century:

"Secretary Clinton rightly identifies accountability as the centerpiece of any successful human rights agenda for the United States. But if the administration means what it says, then it needs to follow through and back up rhetoric with actions. Discussion of human rights can't be an empty rebranding exercise.

"The President should appoint a bipartisan commission to investigate the abuses connected to counterterrorism policies since September 11, 2001. The administration must adhere to executive orders already in effect and close the prison at Guantanamo and abide by international legal commitments to end torture.

"The administration can't insist that other countries adhere to human rights protections while continuing to detain people outside the rule of law at home. The administration should bring charges against Guantanamo detainees who can legitimately be charged with a crime, and release the rest without further delay. To date, more than 100 individuals have already been cleared for release but remain unjustly detained in Guantanamo.

"In his Nobel Prize speech in Oslo, President Obama stated that 'no nation can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we are not willing to follow those rules ourselves.'

"Amnesty International commends the administration for signaling that it intends to engage closely on human rights. This is welcome progress.

"It should carry this message forward through measurable progress at home. Taking these steps would further enhance national security. This means prioritizing accountability for torture, fully implementing already ratified human rights treaties, and signaling strong support for those human rights treaties not yet ratified, reconstituting an Interagency Working Group on Human Rights, creating an independent, nonpartisan National Human Rights Commission, and issuing a comprehensive Executive Order on Human Rights."

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