Obama urged to act on human rights

Human Rights Watch says "enormous damage" of the Bush years should be undone.

    The US's reputation has been damaged by abuses
    such as those at Guantanamo Bay [GALLO/GETTY]

    Bush-era abuses

    In depth

    Read the full report here

    Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director, said there was "an enormous need" for the Obama administration to "redeem America's reputation".

    "The United States under Bush has gone from a government that was often at the forefront of promoting human rights to one that is the most prominent violator of human rights," Roth said in Washington DC.

    "In our view, president-elect Obama should do, broadly speaking, two things to redeem America's reputation: First, end the abuses of the Bush era, and second, officially and definitively repudiate them."

    The Bush era, which saw detention without trial in Guantanamo Bay, revelations of abuse at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the seizing of al-Qaeda suspects around the world, has cost the US moral high ground on human rights, the report said.

    Gaza highlighted

    Israel's blockade of Gaza was
    condemned by the report [AFP]
    The US-based watchdog said that governments opposing basic rights, including those of Russia and China, had rushed to fill the vacuum left by the US.

    The report singled out South Africa for failing to address the crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe but it commended smaller nations such as Botswana and Zambia for speaking out.

    It also criticised the United Nations and other international bodies whose cumbersome decision-making processes let countries such as Sudan and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, carry out rights abuses behind claims of sovereignty.

    The report also highlighted the human rights crisis in Gaza that existed before more than 1,000 Palestinians were killed following an Israeli offensive it says is to stop Palestinian rocket fire from the territory.

    And it also condemned Israel's blockade of Gaza and Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

    Those nations also praised as speaking out for human rights were Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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