Massimino Statement on Appointment of Petraeus to Lead U.S. Afghanistan Command

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brenda Bowser Soder
bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org
O -202/370-3323, C – 301/906-4460

Massimino Statement on Appointment of Petraeus to Lead U.S. Afghanistan Command

WASHINGTON - Following President Barack Obama's announcement that Gen. David
Petraeus has been named the new top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Human
Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino issued the following
statement:

"General Petraeus has exercised leadership by insisting that the
United States live its values—by treating detainees humanely and abiding
by our obligations under the Geneva Conventions. In 2007, he wrote an
open letter to the troops under his command in Iraq. In it he challenged
those who called for or engaged in coercive interrogation tactics:
'Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture
or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They
would be wrong.' He went on to spell out the stakes of getting this
right: 'Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect
human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence
to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on
securing the population, which must understand that we—not our
enemies—occupy the moral high ground.' We agree. These principles apply
equally in Afghanistan. Our national security and the successful
completion of the U.S. mission there depend on depriving the enemy of
legitimacy and building trust between Americans and Afghans. If he is
confirmed by the Senate to serve in this post, General Petraeus has the
opportunity to ensure that the United States treats detainees there in
accordance with our values."

Human Rights First has outlined a series of key recommendations for
the U.S. forces in Afghanistan that include the following:

  • Ending abuse of detainees in U.S. custody;
  • Providing detainees with prompt and fair hearings, and access
    to lawyers;
  • Granting human rights observers access to detainees and their
    hearings;
  • Increasing Afghan participation in U.S. detention decisions;
  • Working with Afghan authorities to improve the fairness of the
    Afghan criminal justice system; and
  • Granting the ICRC access to all prisoners in U.S. custody.

For more information, please visit http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/us_law/detention/index.aspx.

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Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.

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