Human Rights First gives Obama its agenda for human rights

November 8, 2012

Official photographic portrait of US President...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Human Rights First (HRF), a New York based international NGO and member on the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, reacted with speed to Obama’s reelection and issued a statement of what it thinks is ready for bi-partisan action on human rights:

 

1. Champion Women’s Rights. A record number of women will serve in the U.S. Senate in January. And Republicans and Democrats—men and women—agree on the importance of protecting women’s rights around the world. The Obama administration and Congress should work together to make sure that women’s rights are enshrined in the Egyptian constitution and that women in the region who stood side by side with men in demanding their freedom are fully represented in public life, including in elected legislatures, and not forced out of the public square.

 

2. Support Freedom. Last night, President Obama said, “We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter.” The United States should stand with those people. That means pressing our allies—like Bahrain—to stop cracking down on dissent. It means working effectively with the international community to bring an end to the human rights crisis in Syria. And it means supporting activists in repressive societies like Russia, China, and Cuba.

 

3. Protect Freedom of Religion. As the recent furor over the anti-Islam film showed, the second Obama administration will have to navigate difficult issues at the intersection of religion and foreign policy. In his second term, the President should push back against efforts to impose an international standard outlawing “defamation of religions,” which would be used, like national blasphemy laws in countries like Pakistan, to persecute religious minorities and restrict freedom of speech, and which would fuel sectarian violence and empower extremists.

 

4. Protect Gay and Lesbian People from Violence. Voters in Maryland, Maine, and Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage-the first time gay marriage won at the ballot box. Wisconsin elected the first openly gay U.S. Senator. But while the tide of public opinion on gay rights has rapidly turned here, around the world, gay and lesbian people face discrimination and violence. In his second term, President Obama should build on the work of his first to provide protection for gay and lesbian people, including those forced to flee for their safety.

 

5. Provide Safe Haven for Refugees. Washington may finally be poised to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. While this issue has been politically challenging, there is broad bipartisan support for keeping America’s promise to be a refuge for those fleeing oppression. For starters, that means reforming the policies that land those seeking freedom in jail.

 

6. Close Guantanamo. Before it became a political football, national security experts and elected officials from both parties agreed that Guantanamo needed to close. President George W. Bush said he wanted to close it. Senator John McCain campaigned on it. And on his second full day in office, President Obama, flanked by retired Admirals and Generals, promised to do it. He doubled down on the Daily Show right before the election. Now it’s time to get it done. This is a legacy issue.

 

http://actions.humanrightsfirst.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=6824

 

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