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For Immediate Release

PHR Disappointed that State of the Union Address Neglected Human Rights

Cambridge, MA - 02/14/2013

PHR today expressed disappointment that President Obama failed to mention a specific human rights agenda in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. PHR had previously called on the president to seize the opportunity to lay out in detail his strategy to combat torture and mass atrocities around the world.

PHR now calls on Congress to take up the president on his offer to “engage Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”

Among other actions, PHR urges that the report on CIA interrogation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence be made public and that Congress press for revision of the Army Field Manual to explicitly ban interrogation techniques that are tantamount to torture.

Said PHR Executive Director Donna McKay:” I am disappointed that the president did not heed PHR’s call to emphasize his human rights agenda for his second term. On this important occasion, he could have informed the American people about specific efforts to combat torture and mass atrocities around the world, and could have recommitted the US government to a zero tolerance policy for human rights abuses.  Now we must continue our work to make sure these issues receive the attention they deserve in the White House and on Capitol Hill.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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