For Immediate Release

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

NEW YORK - 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."

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.

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.

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."


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