Amnesty calls on Obama to lift blockade

Campaign News | Saturday, 8 November 2008

From Reuters

Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan believes President-elect Obama should lift the Cuba embargo.

SANTIAGO-U.S. President-elect Barack Obama should lift the 46-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, the head of human rights group Amnesty International said on Friday.

Obama has said he would grant Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit Cuba and send cash to their families there, and is open to talks with President Raul Castro, but that he would keep the trade embargo as a way of pressuring Cuba to make democratic changes.

Irene Khan, Amnesty International's secretary general, said changing Washington's Cuba policy would help Obama restore the United States' moral authority, which she said was damaged during the administration of President George W. Bush.

"We would like President-elect Obama to lift the embargo against Cuba because we believe that that embargo is contributing to denial of human rights to the people, and is not therefore conducive to human rights change," she told Reuters during a visit to Chile.

Khan also repeated calls for Obama to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba where hundreds of suspected members of al Qaeda, the Taliban and other radical Islamist groups have been held without trial in the last seven years.

"Obama should close Guantanamo. Obama should make a public statement confirming the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment," she said.

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