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February 06, 2015

Administration Should Prioritize National Security Strategy Policies that Respect Human Rights

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today said that the 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy rightly reinforces the United States’ commitment to policies that promote the protection of human rights and urges the Obama Administration to take action to ensure that these policies are implemented.

“We welcome the inclusion of human rights priorities in the 2015 national security strategy.  Now the administration should follow up these commitments with concrete action,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “To this end, the administration should support Congressional efforts to close the loopholes that allowed the CIA to engage in torture. In addition, to fulfill its stated commitment to closing Guantanamo, the administration should prioritize transferring detainees who have been cleared by relevant agencies out of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and increase the pace of reviews for those who have not.”

Furthermore, the authority the White House requests from Congress to combat the so-called Islamic State should include a sunset of the 2001 AUMF, which policymakers and legal experts from both sides of the aisle agree has been stretched well beyond its original purpose, which was to authorize force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. 

By partnering with authoritarian governments in the struggle against terrorism and violent extremism, the U.S. government risks pursuing a contradictory, or even counter productive strategy. Several U.S. allies in the fight against ISIL use the threat of terrorism to deny basic rights and freedoms to their people and regularly target those who peacefully dissent, fostering polarization and conflict and creating a climate in which violent extremism, instability, and regional insecurity grows. 

“In order to protect the long term U.S. interests of security and stability in the Middle East, U.S. policy to confront violent extremism must prioritize urging allies such as Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to turn away from repression and denying the basic rights and freedoms of their own people,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks.

For more information or to speak with Eviatar or Hicks,contact Corinne Duffy at [email protected] or 202-370-3319.