Int’l Rights Groups Urge Obama to Take Up Human Rights

Two international human rights groups have called on US President-elect Barack Obama to take concrete steps to address human rights concerns.


Two international human rights groups have called on US President-elect Barack Obama to take concrete steps to address human rights concerns.

In its statement Nov. 5, Amnesty International urged US President-elect Barack Obama to ‘show true leadership by making human rights central to his new administration.’

In the first 100 days of the presidency, 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 US agents; and, ensure the setting up of an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the USA in its ‘war on terror.’

”President-elect Barack Obama must reverse the damage done at home and abroad by the US government’s unlawful actions in the name of national security,” said Larry Cox, executive director at Amnesty International USA.

He said, “The US government’s policies during the past eight years have violated the basic rights of thousands of individuals, damaged the US’ credibility on human rights issues and strained diplomatic relations.

Irene Khan, secretary general of the Amnesty International said, “The new administration must focus on righting some of the wrongs of the Bush Administration and restoring the US as a human rights champion at home and abroad.”

The group also urged Obama to push forward policies that will advance internationally recognized human rights.

Meanwhile, the New York Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines (NY CHRP) urged the Amnesty International to include in its list of demands to Obama the de-listing of progressives and activists from blacklists and watchlists, and the scrapping of these types of lists.

The NY CHRP said, “While we agree with your calls, we are disappointed in the non-mention of the lifting of existent blacklists that tag individuals and charities as foreign terrorist (FT) organizations and therefore ‘enemies of the state.’

The group deemed that the so-called lists, as part of the post-9/11 climate and the Global War on Terror, are ‘instruments of warmongers to sow wide scale fear and paranoia, and silence legitimate and justified dissent by stripping dissidents of their fundamental human rights.’

The group cited the case of Professor Jose Maria Sison, a well-known Filipino political refugee living in the Netherlands. “Sison’s exile and listing by the US and EU governments as a foreign terrorist is entirely politically-motivated…Though he is a recognized refugee by the European Union, a distinction that should secure him with basic democratic rights, his FT listing has stripped him of his right to employment, to hold a bank account, to his assets, and to travel.”

“If the US can rise from the dark ages of slavery and racial segregation to elect a black man as president in 2008, then surely we can also rise from the dark period of McCarthyist blacklists and communist witch hunts as well,” wrote the NY CHRP to Amnesty International.(

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