AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL(AI)By Yongzhi, Clement, Milton, Derrick, YiXiang, Liki
What is AI?Founded by Peter Benenson in London 1961International Non-Governmental Organisation(NGO)Misson: To conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.2.2 million members and supporters
The work AI doesExerts influence on governments, political bodies, companies and intergovernmental groupsMobilizes public pressure through mass demonstrations, vigils and direct lobbying as well as online and offline campaigning. Through appealing, AI thus pressures the target to respect the rule of law.
Scope of workWomen's RightsChildren's RightsEnding Torture and ExecutionRights of RefugeesRights of Prisoners of Conscience (Refers to people imprisoned due to their race, religion, sexual orientation, belief etc, and those persecuted for non-violent expression of their conscientiously-held beliefs, so long as they have not advocated violence)
Aims:Stop violence against womenDefend the rights and dignity of those trapped in povertyAbolish the death penaltyOppose torture and combat terror with justiceFree prisoners of conscienceProtect the rights of refugees and migrantsRegulate the global arms trade
How AI does her workCampaigningMobilise public opinion3 Types: Individual, national or thematicDirect appeal (such as letter writing)Media and publicity workPublic demonstrationsFundraising often coupled with campaigningUrgent matters: Urgent Action (UA) appeals (involves urgent action networks or crisis response networks)Other matters: Membership
How AI does her workIssues press releasesPublishes information in newsletters and on websitesOfficial missions to countries to make courteous but insistent inquiriesPublication of reportsInvolves research via interviews with victims and officialsObserving trials and thus evaluate themCollaborations with local human rights activistsMonitoring the media
Rationale for her workAI envisions for everyone to enjoy all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standardsTo prevent and end grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity (defined within scope of work)Argues that human rights abuses anywhere are the concern of people everywhereOutraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world, they go about doing their work
Challenges faced by AICriticised for ideological biasOne-sidedFailure to consider threats to security as a mitigating factorCriticised for reporting disproportionately on relatively more democratic and open countriesHowever AI argues that its intention is not to produce a range of reports which statistically represents the worlds human rights abuses, but rather to apply the pressure of public opinion to encourage improvements
Challenges faced by AIDetention/Abduction (faced by human rights defenders)Smear Campaigns (delegitimize, slander)Bureaucratic Barriers (hamper organizations)Restricting meetingsDeny legal registration, or cease operationObstruct fact-finding visitsHarassmentDaily (such as phone tapping, surveillance)Extreme (freezing assets, home raids, confiscation)
Rationale for choosing AILongest historyBroadest name recognitionBelieved to set the standards for the human rights movements as a wholeEffectivePressure has had an effect on peoples own lives Governments are persuaded to change their laws and practicesControversy especially concerning biasHence subject to (our) pertinent scrutiny
Direct/Personal impactHuman rights abuses anywhere are the concern of people everywhereLocally in Singapore: Death penalty subject to scrutiny Restrictive laws and defamation suits to muzzle criticsIf AI succeeds in persuading the Singaporean Government, this will have great implications especially concerning media freedom and publicityThough this is highly unlikely
Effort evaluationThe Stop Torture campaign (Oct 2000 - Dec 2001) is AI's third global campaign on tortureFollows AI's first campaign denouncing torture (1972-1973) and its second focusing on the prevention of torture (1984). These campaigns contributed to the UN's adoption of the Convention against Torture, on (Human Rights Day) 10 December 1984.
Effort evaluationAchievement:In the first five months of the Stop Torture campaign, over 19,500 subscribers from 188 countries used this innovative form of campaigning on behalf of eight individuals Within 12 hours of each action, an average of 2,500 appeals was generated. Three of the eight individuals (in Turkey, Mexico, and Ecuador) have been released.
Effort evaluationValidityTorture is cruel, inhuman and degrading human dignityGovernments have invoked threats of terrorism to cover up and justify its use, hence the need to strengthen importance of this issueSoundnessKey issue: Can governments stop shielding torturers and accept responsibility for their crimes?Governments have a clear duty to protect their civilian population from violent attacks, including terrorist actsGovernments who are concerned with their image will be spurred onThose who do not stop torture will ironically be harming their civilians and thus be subject to severe criticismDenotes IsDenotes Is not
Effort evaluationRelevanceFailure to uphold international obligationsEven USA has undermined human rights in the context of counter-terrorism while continuing to pay lip service to international obligationsHowever, relevance in our local context is limited due to these acts often taking place under clandestine conditions (convenience of secrecy)Moreover, little concrete action taken to effectively undertake investigations (due to fear and implications of exposure)Denotes IsDenotes Is not
Effort evaluationFailure to address the underlying problemStates have made their own self-interest in removing a particular individual their priority, rather than seeking to change the underlying problem of torture in the receiving country as a wholeThis is a betrayal of some of the states most fundamental obligations in international human rights lawMoral degradation of stateNegligence of victims
Bibliographyhttp://www.amnesty.org/ - Amnesty International Buchanan, Tom (October 2002). "'The Truth Will Set You Free': The Making of Amnesty International". Journal of Contemporary History 37 (4): 575597. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3180761. Retrieved on 2009-04-17http://18.104.22.168/achievement/index.html - AI Australia