Obama and Human Rights

Published: November 19, 2012
Letter> New York Times Opinion Pages

Regarding “A second chance on human rights”: Eric L. Lewis cogently articulates the frustration and dismay of so many of us who had pinned our hopes on Barack Obama in 2008 to champion human rights at home in America. At the same time, Mr. Lewis offers concrete advice for the newly re-elected president on how to seize the opportunities available to make good on his past promises and our expectations in dealing with the dark vestiges of the George W. Bush administration.

The Guantánamo facility must be closed, the imprisoned (it is ridiculous to say after all these years that they are simply being detained) must be charged and tried or they must be released, any trials should be held in U.S. courts in the United States, and a more accountable and transparent approach to drone strikes where innocent lives are taken (though euphemistically referred to as collateral damage) must be set in place.

Dealing with the issues as suggested by Mr. Lewis will not only enhance American credibility abroad as a beacon for human rights, but will also solidify President Obama’s legacy as an advocate of the rule of law.

Michael G. Karnavas, Phnom Penh

The writer is an international criminal defense lawyer working in Cambodia.

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