Human Rights must be at the Forefront of Third and Final Presidential Debate

Press Release
October 19, 2012

Human Rights must be at the Forefront of Third and Final Presidential Debate

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579

(Washington, D.C.) —Grave abuses of human rights fuel or underpin many of the foreign policy challenges that will be the focus of Monday night’s final presidential debate.

Whether it is the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the transitions in the Middle East and North Africa or the challenges to freedom of expression in Russia and China, human rights need to be at the heart of the next president’s foreign policy agenda.

As the third and final debate approaches, Amnesty International calls on candidates to address specifically how they will prioritize human rights within U.S. international relations, and how they will work to remedy a worsening climate of abuse in many parts of the world.

"With recent reports of girls being shot for speaking out for their right to an education, and artists being jailed for peaceful expression of their political beliefs, the United States needs a president who is ready to defend human rights around the world,” said Amnesty International USA executive director Suzanne Nossel. “The next president needs to be unequivocal in his stand for human rights. President Obama and Governor Romney need to spell out how they will uphold human rights both in the United States’ own practices and in its policies toward other governments and international institutions.”

Among some of the topics that should be addressed at the final debate include:

Women’s Rights - the future of women's rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where recent alarming attacks point to the broader problem of rampant violence against women and girls

Freedom of Expression- the assaults on freedom of expression and assembly throughout the world. Artists, human rights defenders and others from Liu Xiaobo in China to Pussy Riot band members in Russia to journalists in Ethiopia have been targeted for expressing their opinions.

Targeted Killing by the United States- the U.S. government drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, which have resulted in civilian casualties and garnered global resentment against the United States. This policy appears to permit extrajudicial executions in violation of international human rights law.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.