Key Human Rights Challenge to 2012 U.S. Presidential Candidates

Press Release
October 2, 2012

Key Human Rights Challenge to 2012 U.S. Presidential Candidates

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

(Washington, D.C.) –Amnesty International is challenging the 2012 U.S. presidential candidates to commit to a set of 12 human rights goals that will help secure the place of human rights in their administrations.

“This is a defining moment in U.S. history,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director for Amnesty International USA. “The United States’ global claim to human rights leadership took a major hit in the early part of the twenty-first century. Ten years later, Guantanamo remains open for business, indefinite detention persists and other serious problems remain.”

“The next four years will be pivotal in determining whether the United States will be a human rights trailblazer, or just an occasional actor when principles coincide with a narrow conception of U.S. national interests,” said Nossel. “The United States’ clout in promoting human rights around the world is only as good as its own record at home and in its international dealings. If the next president is going to profess a commitment to human rights, it needs to be backed by a pledge to improve the United States’ own record.”

Amnesty International’s “12 for 2012” includes domestic and foreign affairs issues. In the first presidential debate focused on domestic issues, the human rights organization asks the candidates their solutions to several key national challenges, including mass-incarceration and racial disparities in the United States’ criminal justice system and comprehensive immigration reform legislation that protects the human rights of documented and undocumented immigrants.

“While human rights issues may not be top of mind for swing voters, these questions will help determine the shape and strength of U.S. society and global credibility for decades to come,” said Nossel.

The three domestic-focused questions are listed below. For the full list of questions, please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/pdfs/12for2012Final.pdf

10) Will you commit to prioritizing passage in the Congress of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would protect undocumented immigrants from exploitation by traffickers and unscrupulous employers; create opportunities for immigrants to attain legal status in the United States; bolster oversight and accountability for the conduct of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers; and provide families with avenues to be reunited or remain together?

11) Will you issue an Executive Order on Human Rights to ensure that full spectrum human rights promotion and enforcement are prioritized among all federal agencies and departments and in all legislative policy and regulatory decisions; and by monitoring and accountability offices throughout the United States government? Will you commit to rigorous follow up on recommendations made by international human rights bodies and meaningful periodic consultations with civil society on the implementation of the U.S.’s human rights obligations?

12) Will you commit to support a comprehensive review of the U.S. criminal justice system charged with recommending reforms to address mass-incarceration, racial and other disparities at all stages of the system, and violence and abuse in prisons?

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.