President Obama and Congress: Respect Human Rights and Counter Terror With Justice
President Obama and a number of members of Congress have resisted full accountability for torture, and have endorsed indefinite detention and unfair military commissions. Further, loopholes for torture and abuse remain and U.S. detentions at Bagram and other facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq do not meet human rights standards.
The U.S. government is required by law to end human rights violations and ensure accountability for them. Human rights violations are immoral, illegal and-according to military and intelligence experts-ineffective and counterproductive. There is an alternative: call on President Obama and Congress to respect human rights, follow the law and counter terror with justice.
I welcomed President Obama's executive orders to close Guantanamo and end the use of torture. Further, I welcome the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate a number of cases of detainee abuse as a positive step toward accountability. However, I am deeply concerned that human rights violations -- and impunity for human rights violations -- continue. This in spite of the fact that human rights violations are immoral, illegal and -- according to military and intelligence experts -- ineffective and counterproductive.
There is an alternative. I am writing to urge you to respect human rights, follow the law and counter terror with justice:
- Ensure accountability for torture and abuse, as required by law. Set up or support an independent commission of inquiry to investigate torture and other human rights violations committed by the U.S. government in the name of countering terrorism; ensure that all those who break the law are prosecuted; and ensure redress and remedy to victims;
- Reject indefinite detention and unfair military commissions. Guantanamo detainees must either be charged with a crime and fairly tried in U.S. federal court, without recourse to the death penalty, or be released, to countries where their human rights will be respected;
- Bring U.S. detentions at Bagram and other U.S. facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq into compliance with international law and human rights standards;
- Close all possible loopholes for torture and other ill-treatment, and end any use of rendition and secret detention by or on behalf of the U.S. authorities anywhere.
The U.S. government is required by law to respect human rights and to ensure accountability for human rights violations. I call on you to follow the law.
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