Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama has ‘not done enough’ to distance US from Bush crimes

Morning Star Online
Wednesday 29 April 2009

NEW AGE: Obama needs to do more to prove that change is not skin deep.

AMNESTY declared on Wednesday that US President Barack Obama must do more to shake off the legacy of torture, impunity and unlawful detention he inherited from the previous US administration.

The human rights group released a report to coincide with the first 100 days of Mr Obama’s administration which applauded his decision to close the Guantanamo detention camp within 12 months and his rejection of torture.

But it stressed that more needs to be done, especially at Guantanamo Bay, where the US continues to hold 240 people without charge.

Only one detainee - Ethiopian national and British resident Binyam Mohamed - has been released since Mr Obama took office.

And no-one has yet been charged under the new administration.

Report author Rob Freer said: “From the perspective of the detainees, the change in administration has meant pretty much nothing.

“Some have been held for seven years and need their cases resolved quickly,” Mr Freer stressed.

Noting that “Guantanamo is the creation of the US,” Mr Freer argued that Mr Obama should have changed former president George W Bush’s policy that no Guantanamo detainees would be released into the US.

Amnesty also highlighted the fact that Mr Obama has not changed the US policy on Bagram air base in Afghanistan, where hundreds of people are being held without charge with no access to the outside world.

“The closure of Guantanamo must mark the end of the policies and practices it embodies, not merely shift those violations elsewhere, whether to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan or anywhere else,” Amnesty concluded.

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood claimed that it is “too early” for rights activists to start criticising Mr Obama’s administration.

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