Amnesty International Calls on US President-Elect Obama to Put Human Rights at the Heart of Government

For Immediate Release

Amnesty International
Contact: 

AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302, lspann@aiusa.org

Amnesty International Calls on US President-Elect Obama to Put Human Rights at the Heart of Government

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International today
urged U.S. President-elect Obama to show true leadership by making human
rights central to his new administration. The organization is calling on
the new president to take concrete steps in his first 100 days in office
that would show genuine commitment to bringing the United States into line
with its international obligations.

In the first 100 days, Amnesty International
is specifically calling on the new administration to:

*announce a plan and date for the closure
of the detention center at Guantanamo,

*issue an executive order to ban torture
and other ill-treatment, as defined under international law and applicable
to all U.S. agents, and
*ensure an independent commission is set
up to investigate abuses committed by the United States in its war on terror.

These demands form part of a "checklist"
of actions Amnesty International is asking the new U.S. president to take
during his first 100 days in office (see: www.amnestyusa.org/100days).

"President-elect Obama must make a clean
break from the previous administration's detention policies and practices.
Millions of people, politicians and religious leaders in the United States
and across the world are demanding these changes.  Now is the time
to make them happen," said Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International.

"President-elect Obama must reverse the
damage done at home and abroad by the U.S. government's unlawful actions
in the name of national security," said Larry Cox, executive director
at Amnesty International USA. "The U.S. government's policies during
the past eight years have violated the basic rights of thousands of individuals,
damaged the United States' credibility on human rights issues and strained
diplomatic relations. With the entire world watching, and the election
of a new president and Congress, it's time to commit the United States
to its international obligations and ensure that the rule of law will be
the foundation of the country's policies. "

Amnesty International is also urging President-elect
Obama to push forward policies that will advance internationally recognized
human rights.  The U.S. government should also provide principled
leadership in halting mass atrocities against civilians in places such
as Darfur, ending the continued violence against women and girls in the
United States and abroad, supporting human rights defenders and the international
system of justice with the International Criminal Court at its heart.

"Human rights must be an integral aspect
of every policy, action and issue embarked on by President-elect Obama
and his administration," said Cox. "Although the current economic circumstances
will dominate much of the public debate and international agenda, a strong
and vigilant human rights agenda must also be a priority. The importance
of reversing the legacy of the United States as a human rights abuser cannot
be overstated."

"The new administration must focus on
righting some of the wrongs of the Bush administration and restoring the
United States as a human rights champion at home and abroad," said
Khan.

During the first 100 days of the new administration,
Amnesty International will be mobilizing its members and supporters in
the United States and around the world to call on the new U.S. president
and Congress to take immediate steps to demonstrate a commitment to human
rights and urgently address pressing issues at home and abroad.

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