The leader of the American Civil Liberties Union human rights program is one of the guest speakers at a symposium this weekend at the University of Iowa. Jamil Dakwar says the United States needs to “go back to square one” in re-establishing itself as a leader for human rights around the world.
Dakwar says prior to 9-11, the U.S. was able to successfully influence selected governments to end torture of political prisoners. Dakwar says after 9-11 when the U.S. started committing torture and other human rights violations it lost its moral leadership and standing in the world where it could go out and ask China and other countries to stop human rights violations.
Dakwar says since 9-11, the world has become a more dangerous place with more human rights violations. He says at the same time there’s been a stronger understanding and commitment by the international committee, with some U.S. leadership, on human rights norms that must be respected. The Center for Victims of Torture has crafted a proposed presidential executive order that would call for an end to torture worldwide.
Nancy Pearson is project manager for the center, and another speaker at the symposium. Pearson says torture is not something that America wants to be a part of and she says it’s not a partisan issue, it’s an issue that involves all of us. Pearson says one of the guiding principles of the proposed executive order is the “Golden Rule.”
“Do unto others as we would have do unto us, and I think that we do not want to carry out any practices of interrogation that we would not find acceptable if used against American citizens or our military personnel,” Pearson says. Pearson is hopeful president-elect Obama will review and sign the executive order.