Northern Ireland: Obama's first 100 days has sent 'mixed messages' on human rights

* Only one detainee released from Guantánamo
* Torture memo publication welcome, but accountability for torture still needed
* Call on Northern Ireland Executive to help President by offering refuge for freed Guantanamo detainees

Amnesty International has today (29 April) described US President Barack Obama’s first 100 days on counter-terrorism policies as “promises for change with only limited action”.

The assessment comes as the human rights organisation issued a new 31-page report analysing the US Administration’s actions on security and counter-terrorism. The organisation locally repeated its call to the Northern Ireland Executive to offer a refuge to those detainees who have been cleared for release from Guantanamo.

Amnesty’s report welcomes a number of positive developments during President Obama’s first 100 days - including the issuing of executive orders on Guantánamo’s closure, an end to the CIA programme of long-term secret detentions, and imposing new standards for interrogations - but also highlights serious shortcomings.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“If this was Obama's school report card, we might be commenting 'Barack has had a good start and demonstrated real potential, but must apply himself to complete his work'.

“President Obama's actions - within 48 hours of taking office - to close Guantánamo within a year, end secret CIA detentions and break with the secrecy of the Bush administration were very welcome.

“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, for instance on Bagram where hundreds are still detained with no solution in sight.

“Much of the world cheered when Obama became President, but if those hopes are not to be dashed, he must show that he is serious about human rights and restoring America's reputation in the world.

"We use this opportunity to call again for the Northern Ireland Executive to help President Obama to close the Guantanamo Bay camp by offering a refuge to those detainees who have been cleared for release, but who cannot be returned to their home country for fear of wrongful imprisonment, torture or worse. Our call has been supported by several of the parties in the Executive, but we await a decision from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister on whether they are willing to follow the lead already given by Spain, Italy, France and the Republic of Ireland."

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