How Did the State of the Union Stack Up On Human Rights?

Obama Travels To Connecticut To Advocate Passing Of Stricter Gun Laws

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?

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#DearObama: Use Your State of the Union to Reject Politics of Fear

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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.

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11 Reasons January 11th Must Be Guantanamo’s Last Anniversary

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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

From Paris to Peshawar: Answer with Human Rights

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Yesterday, gunmen attacked the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In Peshawar last month, at least 142 people—including 132 children—were killed by Taliban militants at a military-run school. These are just two of scores of attacks by armed individuals and groups that have occurred over the last year. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What John Brennan Should Have Said about the Torture Report

Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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

The Terrifying Reason 64% of Mexicans Fear Detention

Facts and Figures infographicsBy Esmeralda Lopez, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Mexico My desire to end torture in Mexico runs deep. Years ago it became too dangerous for me to visit my family in Mexico because they are only hours from Ciudad Juarez, a hot spot of violence. Some officers point to incidents of violence and the high crime rate as justification for use of torture. But I know torture is not the solution. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Introducing Amnesty’s New Global Campaign Against Torture

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Darrell Cannon was tortured by three Chicago Police Department detectives at a remote site on Chicago’s South Side. Over course of a day, they pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. The officers attempted to lift him off the ground by handcuffs secured behind his back, contorting his upper body. They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, breaking his tooth.

“These are all things they enjoyed doing,” Darrell Cannon told Amnesty International, his voice cracking.

He spent 24 years in prison on the basis of a coerced confession that was tortured out of him – ten of those years suffering further degradation in solitary confinement at Tamms Supermax prison.

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One Big Step Closer Toward Transparency on CIA Torture

Yesterday, President Obama voiced his support for the release of the CIA torture report (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/GettyImages).

Yesterday, President Obama voiced his support for the release of the CIA torture report (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/GettyImages).

By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA

On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he strongly supports declassification and public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture since 9/11.

This is a huge step forward in our effort to release the report! Release of this report will help us ensure that the CIA never uses torture again.

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Solving the ‘Big Brother Problem’ of Mass Surveillance

A demonstrator wearing tape over her mouth takes part in a protest against government in Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images).

A demonstrator wearing tape over her mouth takes part in a protest against government in Washington, D.C. (Photo Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images).

By Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International

The ‘Big Brother Problem’ has helped to kick off this year’s discussions of the most pressing problems facing the world today as the World Economic Forum meeting gets under way in Davos, Switzerland.

This is an important recognition of the urgency of the issue. It is one that affects every single one of us and is an area of law that needs to be resolved.

Some of the most memorable headlines of 2013 involved personal privacy, data security and intelligence gathering issues from all corners of the globe – from the U.S. to Brazil, from Australia to India.

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