President-elect Obama's statement in a CBS interview on 16 November that he will follow through on his commitment to close the detention centre at Guantánamo Bay is an important step in the right direction.
"Amnesty International welcomes the President-elect's confirmation that he intends to close Guantánamo and ensure that the USA does not use torture. We urge him to seize the initiative after taking office in January and to prioritise ending all internationally unlawful detention and interrogation practices by the USA," said Rob Freer, Amnesty International's researcher on the USA.
"We urge President-elect Obama to turn his words into action within the first 100 days of his presidency and demonstrate his commitment to meeting the USA's international obligations, including by signing an executive order prohibiting torture and other ill-treatment, as defined under international law.
"President George W. Bush also said that the USA would not torture, but the use of "waterboarding" and other "enhanced interrogation techiques" against detainees held in secret CIA custody and the torture or other ill-treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo have told a different story. They reveal the sad and disturbing fact that the USA has authorized and justified the use of torture and other unlawful practices in the name of national security," said Rob Freer.
Amnesty International is also calling on the President-elect to support an independent commission of inquiry into all aspects of the USA's detention and interrogation practices in the "war on terror", and to ensure full accountability for human rights violations committed in that context.
The organization has written to President-elect Obama to urge him to ensure that closing Guantánamo, ending torture and other ill-treatment, and supporting a commission of inquiry are among his priorities for his first 100 days in office.
See Amnesty International's checklist for President-elect Obama.