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November 5, 2008
11:16 AM

CONTACT: Amnesty International

AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302,

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

WASHINGTON - November 5 - 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:

"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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