Amnesty wants Obama to fulfil promise to close Guantanamo

By Julia Collings
April 30, 2009

Amnesty International has marked US President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office by urging him to fulfill his promise to close Guantánamo Bay and to do more to stamp out torture.

In a report analysing the new US administation’s actions on security and counter-terrorism, the human rights organisation says that President Obama has made some important developments but “from the perspective of the detainees, the change in administration has meant pretty much nothing.”

Only one detainee has been released since President Obama came to power, despite his promise, made within 48 hours of coming into office, to close Guantánamo down. The 240 remaining detainees include two British men – Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha.

Amnesty International's UK Director, Kate Allen says “it's very important that the UK government now exerts pressure for their safe release or fair trial.”

Allen said: “We cheered when President Obama said he would close Guantánamo within a year but it's extremely disappointing that only one prisoner's fate has actually been decided 100 days later.”

Amnesty welcomes the number of positive changes made by President Obama in his first 100 days, including ending CIA detentions and breaking with the secrecy of the Bush administration. But it says much more needs to be done.

Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan said: “We have seen some important positive developments in the first 100 days but there are still some steps that are either incomplete or remain to be taken.

“‘Closure and disclosure' will not be complete until the US government follows through by ending all unlawful detentions, bringing to justice all those responsible for torture and other serious human rights violations carried out during the Bush administration and providing real remedies to victims.”

There are also calls for Gordon Brown to follow Obama’s example and make way for a UK inquiry.

Allen said:“President Obama's apparent willingness to allow an independent inquiry in the US should be the prompt for our own government to allow an inquiry here into all aspects of the 'war on terror' - from rendition to alleged UK complicity in secret detention and torture.”

You can join Amnesty's campaign to stop torture by clicking here

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