A U.S.-based human rights group says the Bush
administration has caused enormous damage to the country's human rights
reputation. Human Rights Watch is urging President-Elect Barack Obama to
restore the country's position by putting human rights at the heart of its
foreign, domestic, and security policy.
The executive director of
Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, says the policies of President Bush in the
past eight years have discredited the United States as a force for human rights
in the world.
Human Rights Watch says countries like China, Egypt,
India, Pakistan, and Russia that oppose human rights enforcement, are
influencing the rights agenda.
Roth says the United States failed as an
advocate for human rights in the world when the Bush administration decided to
fight terrorism without regard for basic freedoms.
"The United States has
effectively withdrawn from the defense of human rights in many situations
because of its own human rights practices, because it can't overcome the
hypocrisy factor of protesting torture, or disappearance or detention without
trial," said Kenneth Roth.
Roth says the United States has a chance to
regain its global credibility by reversing the abusive policies of the Bush
In its latest report, Human Rights Watch calls on the
incoming administration of President Elect Barack Obama to close the U.S.
military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the release or
prosecution of all the terrorism suspects in custody. Roth says other countries
should help the United States relocate the detainees.
"We have been
actively encouraging close U.S. allies to recognize that Guantanamo may have
been Bush's problem but now it's everyone's problem, and other governments
should help President Obama close Guantanamo as expeditiously as possible," he
In addition to highlighting human rights abuses caused by armed
conflicts like the fighting in Gaza, the human rights report also documents
political repression in a number of countries. It singles out South Africa for
failing to address the conflict in neighboring Zimbabwe and Egypt for helping
reduce scrutiny on the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.