1-17-2013By Sharon Kelly McBride
Human Rights First
As President Obama begins his second term, he has the opportunity to define his legacy on human rights. We’ll be listening to hear whether he highlights key human rights challenges in next week’s inaugural address–and in his second term. Join us in asking the President to put human rights first.
Enlist Values in the Fight against Terrorism
- Release the Facts on Torture. President Obama shut down the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program. But torture proponents continue to argue that torture “works”. President Obama should push the Senate to release its torture report. Americans must be able to review the facts on torture.
- Close Guantanamo. Four years ago, on his second full day in office, President Obama signed an executive order promising to close Guantanamo because it undermines U.S. national security and compromises American values. It’s past time to close Guantanamo.
- Protect Freedom of Religion. Virtually all major U.S. foreign policy challenges involve countries where religious freedom is denied or where religious conflict destabilizes society. And recent incidents like “Burn a Koran Day” and the furor over The Innocence of Muslims demonstrate the security threats sparked by charges of blasphemy. The President should issue a national strategy to advance international religious freedom.
- Expand Internet Freedom. The Internet is under attack. Dozens of governments – China, Pakistan, Iran, Bahrain, India, Burma, Syria, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam to name a few – view the Internet itself as a threat. They track online activity of their citizens and pressure companies to provide users’ information. The U.S. government should partner with businesses to manage threats to freedom of expression and privacy.
Assist the Arab Spring
- End the Double Standard on Bahrain. The Bahraini Kingdom’s violent crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society continues. The Obama Administration has offered only muted criticisms of this ally and should instead support—in word and deed—human rights defenders and civil society groups fighting for democratic reforms.
- Support Egyptian Democracy. The United States should step away from the failed policies of the past. President Obama must visibly promote the rule of law, pluralistic democracy, and civil society. And the U.S. government can promote women’s equality by advocating for increased representation in Egypt’s government.