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Publication: "Fighting Terrorism Fairly and Effectively"

Recommendations for President-Elect Barack Obama

Human Rights Watch, New York, 19 November 2008

Summary

Over the past seven years, the US government's consistent disregard for human rights in fighting terrorism has diminished America's moral authority, set a negative example for other governments, and undermined the goal of reducing anti-American militancy around the world. The use of torture, unlawful rendition, secret prisons, unfair trials, and long-term, arbitrary detention without charge has been both morally wrong and counterproductive.

Upon taking office, President Barack Obama should promptly and decisively reject the abusive practices of the past administration and embrace an effective counterterrorism policy grounded in respect for human rights. By making a high-profile, public commitment to a new course, and by taking bold steps toward reform, he can signal to the nation and to the world that his administration understands that US counterterrorism policy should be consistent with the country's basic values and with international law.

Human Rights Watch calls upon President Obama to take the following actions:

publication of Human Rights Watch: Fighting Terrorism Fairly and Effectively - Recommendations for President-Elect Barack Obama
photo: Human Rights Watch: cover
  • Close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. 
  • Abolish the military commissions and prosecute terrorist suspects in federal court.
  • Reject preventive detention (detention without trial) as an alternative to prosecuting terrorist suspects.
  • Reject the "global war on terror" as the basis for detaining terrorist suspects.
  • Issue an executive order to implement the ban on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • End the CIA detention program.
  • Prohibit renditions to torture.
  • Account for past abuses.
  • Provide redress for abuse.
  • Repudiate presidential directives and Justice Department memos that permit torture and other abuses.
  • Protect innocent victims of persecution abroad from being defined as terrorists.
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