During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama touched on issues of national security, criminal justice reform, immigration policy and women’s health, all of which involve human rights.
It is important to promote awareness of these issues as part of the US national conversation. But as always, the proof is in the pudding. So how do President Obama’s words stack up against actions?
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.
Dear Mr. President,
Here comes the fear again.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, some in the broadcast news media are attempting to turn the public’s shock into full-fledged hysteria – the kind that fuels not only their ratings, but suspicion, hate and a bunker mentality.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Zack Michaelson
Our nation is currently in a debate about how to handle gross abuses of power by those tasked with defending us. In past weeks, we have learned more about the vast conspiracy of torture operated by the CIA, perpetrated on more than one hundred people. We have witnessed a run of recent incidents involving police using what appears to be unwarranted lethal force. The police violence around the country has also appeared to get inadequate investigation and accountability, angering many. These coincident events derive from shared issues, and now is the time for action for those who defend human rights.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
[UPDATE: The Nigerian presidential elections have been postponed to March 28, 2015.]
In the Nigerian presidential elections on February 15th, and after a year of conflict spurred by attacks by the armed group Boko Haram, one would expect security issues to be the top topic of debate. However, in his New Years address to the nation, President Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent in the election, placed little emphasis on the severity of the violence in the northern regions of the country. Instead, he devoted a majority of the speech to his commitment to the oil industry and other topics of infrastructure and development. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
This Sunday, January 11, marks the grim 13th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. With the momentum President Obama has now, he must make this anniversary Guantanamo’s last. Here are 11 reasons why closing the prison now is a human rights imperative: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Raif Badawi, founder of a website for political and social debate, has been held in a Saudi Arabian prison since 17 June 2012. ©Private
An eyewitness account of the flogging today of Raif Badawi an activist in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. The witness has not been identified for security reasons.
“When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today. They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew.
No one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Gerald Gray, LCSW, Institute for Redress and Recovery
Just released US Torture Papers focus on torture in interrogation, ostensibly for defense of the country. The US also tortures another way, not for defense but for regional control by terror. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marzieh Afkham
Iranian state-controlled news media have been having an extended field day recently, gleefully reporting on the ever-unfolding news about human rights violations committed by agents of the U.S. government. These include of course the revelations in the recently released CIA torture report and the police killings of unarmed African-American men in Staten Island, Ferguson and elsewhere. Iran’s foreign ministry also recently deplored the United States “flagrant and systematic violation of the rights of its minorities.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The Senate torture report alleges several grave abuses – such as use of rectal feeding and rehydration in the absence of medical necessity – that were not authorized by even the dubious legal memos, and thus do not fit the Justice Department’s rationale. Even Alberto Gonzales, attorney general under President George W. Bush, has said he is troubled by evidence suggesting the CIA went beyond Justice Department guidance. The Senate torture report also concludes that the CIA “repeatedly provided inaccurate information” to the Justice Department.
If the Justice Department already knew of the abuses reported in the Senate torture report, it must do more to explain why it found no basis for prosecutions. And if the Justice Department did not have access to this information, how can it dismiss the Senate torture report’s new evidence out of hand?
Nor is it sufficient for the Justice Department to cite “good faith” reliance on dubious legal guidance as a basis for closing investigations. The U.S. is bound by international law to ensure accountability for torture.
This is an excerpt. Read the full piece and upvote it at US News’ Debate Club.
Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
By Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA Director of Security with Human Rights
Today John Brennan, director of the CIA, gave a live press conference responding to the Senate’s landmark report on the CIA torture and secret detention program. He acknowledged “mistakes.” He said that the program was “flawed.” He said that the CIA had now improved “management” and “planning.”
But words like these do not reflect the full gravity of torture and enforced disappearances. They downgrade this program of systematic human rights violations to a series of unforeseen complications. They make torture seem like a bad choice – instead of the crime that it is.
Here’s what Brennan should have said, without qualification: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST