Friday, January 23, 2009

Witness Against Torture praises Obama's initial steps toward justice during its 100 Days Campaign, demands rapid implementation

WASHINGTON -- Witness Against Torture (, an organization formed from a march to Guantanamo in 2005 to protest the prison there, applauds President Barack Obama's executive orders to shut down Guantanamo and the CIA "black sites," and to end the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the CIA at Guantanamo and other prisons.

"President Obama has taken important first steps to undo much of what was the worst Bush administration policies," said Matthew Daloisio, one of those who marched to Guantanamo.
According to the Guantanamo order, "The detention facilities at Guantanamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order."

Witness Against Torture joins other human rights groups in insisting that the facility can be closed much sooner than one year. "While pleased with these developments, we are disappointed that Guantanamo will stay open another year, allows for a new system of detention without charge, and does not adequately address other facilities, such as that in Bagram, Afghanistan, that share the problems of Guantanamo," Daloisio said.

Today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Witness Against Torture will hold a vigil in front of the White House. It will feature reading of detainees' letters, and calling for their rapid release or initiation of fair trials in the Federal Courts.

Witness Against Torture also demands that the Obama administration live up to its promises of transparency and accountability. The group is asking that those responsible for authorizing torture practices be investigated and prosecuted for crimes, and applauds Obama's selection for attorney general, Eric Holder, for his statement that no government official is above the law.

"We need more transparency in holding the responsible parties accountable for the immoral and illegal policies that have, in fact, made America less safe," said Frida Berrigan of Witness Against Torture. "We cannot reliably prevent the crimes of the future unless we fully understand, account for, and appropriately punish the crimes of the past. We fear that efforts to move forward without a process of justice, truth-telling, and reconciliation are doomed to fail."

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