Amnesty urges next US president to ban torture

close-gitmo.jpgAFP | Rights watchdog Amnesty International yesterday urged the next US president to close the “war on terror” prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, ban all forms of torture and stop propping authoritarian regimes.

In its annual report, Amnesty said it was crucial for the new US leader to restore America’s moral authority around the world following President George W Bush’s administration’s “dismal record.
“As the world’s most powerful state, the USA sets the standard for government behavior globally,” it said.

“With breathtaking legal obfuscation, the US administration has continued its efforts to weaken the absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment,” it said.
“The world needs a USA genuinely engaged and committed to the cause of human rights, at home and abroad.”

The Bush administration has come under fire over its treatment of terror suspects and its past use of waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that it refuses to call torture.
“In November 2008, the US people will elect a new President,” Amnesty said as senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battle for the Democratic nomination to face Republican candidate John McCain.

“For the USA to have moral authority as a human rights champion, the next administration must close Guantanamo and either try the detainees in ordinary federal courts or release them,” the London-based group said.

“It must ban evidence obtained through coercion and denounce all forms of torture and other ill-treatment no matter to what end,” it said. “It must ditch support for authoritarian leaders.”
“And it must be ready to end US isolation in the international human rights system and engage constructively with the UN Human Rights Council.”

Amnesty also criticised Washington’s support for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a key ally of the US in the “war on terror.”