What is Amnesty International?
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for human rights. Our work is based on careful research and on the standards agreed by the international community. We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion. Amnesty International mobilizes volunteer activists — people who give freely of their time and energy in solidarity with those whose rights have been abused. We have more than one million members, supporters and subscribers in over 140 countries. We come from all walks of life, with widely different political and religious views, united by our determination to work for a world where everyone enjoys human rights.
What does Amnesty International do?
Amnesty International works independently and impartially to promote respect for all the human rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Amnesty International believes that human rights are interdependent and indivisible - all human rights should be enjoyed by all people at all times, and no one set of rights can be enjoyed at the expense of other rights. It concentrates on ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination.
Historically, the main focus of Amnesty campaigning has been:
1) to free all prisoner of conscience
2) to ensure a prompt and fair trail for all political prisoner
3) to abolish the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
4) to end extra judicial execution and "disappearances"
5) to fight impunity by working to ensure perpetrators of such abuses are brought to justice in accordance with international standards Over the years Amnesty International has expanded this mandate to encompass human rights abuses committed by non governmental bodies and private individuals (non state actors). It opposes abuses by armed political groups (in control of territory or operating in opposition to governments), such as hostage taking, torture and unlawful killings. It opposes human rights abuses against civilians and non combatants by both sides during armed conflict. Amnesty International has also targeted abuses in the home or community where governments have been complicit or have failed to take effective action.
to free all prisoners of conscience to ensure a prompt and fair trial for all political prisoners Is
Amnesty International effective?
We have a record of real achievement. We know this because the people we have been trying to help tell us that our pressure has had an effect. Sometimes governments are persuaded to change their laws and practices. Sometimes our solidarity keeps hope alive. Hope is a precious weapon for prisoners battling to survive, relatives trying to obtain justice on behalf of their loved ones or human rights defenders working in dangerous and isolated circumstances.
How does Amnesty International carry out its work?
Whenever Amnesty International establishes that action is needed to protect people whose rights have been abused, it mobilizes its membership. We search out the facts. We send experts to talk with victims, observe trials and interview local human rights activists and officials. We monitor thousands of media outlets and maintain contact with reliable sources of information all over the world. Our research is carried out by expert staff; supported by specialists in a range of fields such as international law, media and technology. We publish detailed reports. We inform • the news media. We publicize our concern's in leaflets, posters, advertisements, newsletters and websites.
Our members, supporters and staff around the world mobilize the public to put pressure on governments and others with influence to stop the abuses. Activities range from public demonstrations to letter writing, from human rights education to fundraising concerts, from targeted appeals on behalf of a single individual to global campaigns on a specific country or issue, from approaches to local authorities to lobbying at intergovernmental organizations.
Amnesty International's worldwide network generates thousands of appeal letters on behalf of individuals and communities at risk. If urgent action is needed to save lives, volunteers around the world are alerted and letters, faxes and e mails are sent within hours. When a large scale human rights crisis occurs, our members are quickly mobilized in a global campaign. Sometimes our members "adopt" specific individuals and issues if necessary, for years seeking freedom for prisoners of conscience or working to abolish the death penalty in specific countries. Amnesty International supports programs that help people learn about human rights and how to defend them. We develop materials for use in schools, organize teacher training programs and encourage training programs for government officials and security personnel. Amnesty International presses governments to ratify and abide by international human rights treaties and to strengthen international human rights standards.
How can I work with Amnesty International?
Join - When you join Amnesty International, you become part of a worldwide movement. As an individual member, or as part of a local group or a specialist network, your individual voice will join with countless others to build pressure for change.
A financial donation to Amnesty International is a vital act of support for human rights, To ensure its independence, Amnesty International does not seek or accept money from governments or political parties for its work in documenting and campaigning against human rights abuses. Instead, Amnesty International's funding depends on the contributions of its worldwide membership and on donations from the public.
Amnesty International is independent political ideology, economic interest or religion., Its does not support or oppose any government or political systems nor does it necessarily support the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect. To ensure its independence, it does not seek or accept money from governments or political parties for its work in documenting and campaigning against human rights abuses. Its funding depends on the contributions of its worldwide membership and fundraising activities.
Amnesty International is a democratic, self governing movement. It answers only to its own worldwide membership. All policy decisions are taken by elected bodies. Major policy decisions are taken by an International Council made up of representatives from all the countries where Amnesty International members are organized into groups and national sections. They elect an International Executive Committee of volunteers which carries out their decisions and appoints the movement's Secretary General, who is also head of the International Secretariat, the professional heart of Amnesty International.
How did Amnesty International start?
More than four decades ago, the story of two Portuguese. students sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for raising a toast to freed= horrified British lawyer Peter Benenson.' He wrote to the British newspaper, The Observer, calling for an international campaign to bombard authorities around the world with protests about the "forgotten prisoners". On 28 May 1961 the newspaper launched his year long campaign, Appeal for Amnesty 1961, calling on people everywhere to protest against the imprisonment of men and women for their political or religious beliefs - "prisoners of conscience". Within a month, more than a thousand readers had sent letters of support, offers of practical help and details about many more prisoners of conscience. Within six months, a brief publicity effort was being developed into a permanent, international movement. Within a year the new organization had sent delegations to four countries to make representations on behalf of prisoners and had taken up 210 cases. Its members had organized national bodies in seven countries.
The principles of impartiality_ and independence were established from the start. The emphasis was on the international protection of the human rights of individuals. As Amnesty International grew, its focus expanded to take in not just prisoners of conscience, but other victims of human rights abuses - such as torture, "disappearances" and the death penalty. In 1977, the movement's efforts were recognized through the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1978, it was honoured with a United Nations Human Rights Award.
Further information on Amnesty International's history
How does Amnesty International get its information?
Research teams focusing on particular countries investigate reports of human rights abuses, cross checking and corroborating information from a wide variety of sources and contacts. They receive information from prisoners and their families, lawyers, journalists, refugees, diplomats, religious bodies, community workers, humanitarian agencies and other human rights organizations. They monitor newspapers, websites and other media outlets. Amnesty International sends fact finding missions to assess _situations on the spot. The delegates might interview prisoners, relatives, lawyers, witnesses to human rights Violations and local human rights activists. They May also observe trials anti meet government officials.
How does Amnesty International make sure it has facts right? Before any statement or report is issued, its text is approved within the International Secretariat to ensure it is accurate, politically impartial and falls within Amnesty International's mandate. Amnesty International is often dealing with allegations rather than undisputed facts. It makes this plain and usually calls for an investigation of the allegations. If Amnesty International makes a mistake, it issues a correction.
Amnesty International's research is recognized as reliable and is widely consulted by governments, intergovernmental organizations, journalists, scholars, other human rights organizations and campaigning groups.
How does AI obtain information about closed countries? Where Amnesty International is denied access to a country, research teams may have to rely on sources of information outside the country, including news media reports, refugees and diplomatic representatives abroad.