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Amnesty International:

Amnesty is a worldwide movement of people campaigning to protect human rights. They envisage a
world in which every person enjoys all of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and other international human rights standards.
They began in 1961 by advocating on behalf of those who were imprisoned for their political beliefs.
Their work has evolved over the last fifty years to encompass the promotion of wide range of human
rights. They advocate against the death penalty, the use of torture and restrictions to free speech.
They are an organization with 4.6 million members and a presence in over 150 countries. The head
office of Amnesty is in London.
Examples of what Amnesty does:

calls on governments or companies to uphold, create or change laws or policies that will
protect human rights.

sends experts on missions into countries where human rights abuses are occurring to
investigate and report, (eg: in places like Syria, Gaza, Pakistan or Egypt).

works with the worlds media to expose human rights abuses and call the guilty to justice.
organises petitions, write letters or takes online actions directed at governments, groups or
individuals.
supports human rights advocates and activists defending human rights in their own countries.
Some specific examples:
1. Amnesty advocates on behalf of refugees who have been forced to flee to other
countries as a result of war or persecution. As a result it has been a frequent critic of
Australian Government Policy in this area, calling for an end to offshore processing
and indefinite mandatory detention. Amnesty workers have been active in highlighting
alleged humans rights violations in offshore detention centres. An example of this was
its November, 2013 Report into human rights violations on Manus Island. Similarly
Amnesty was active in publicising the death of Iranian asylum seeker Renza Barati
who beaten to death while in custody on Manus Island in February, 2014.
2. Opposition to countries who impose the death penalty is also another key aspect of
Amnestys work. This can be seen in their 2015 campaign of petitions and protests
against the Indonesian Governments executions of 14 convicted drug smugglers
including two Australians.

How do we assess the impact of Amnestys work?


Amnesty can only seek to influence Governments and other organisations through its campaigns. It
can bring public attention to human rights abuses such as the sexual slavery of women by ISIS in
Northern Iraq but it relies on Governments responding to its political pressure. It has clearly had some
success in placing pressure on the Australian Government over its treatment of asylum seekers with
the United Nations and some other nations expressing their concerns. At the same time, the
Australian Government has so far shown no intention of changing its policies, and while public support
for these policies within Australia remains high, this is likely to continue to be the case. Amnesty has
arguably had more success in its efforts to influence the Indonesian Government to change its stance
in relation to the death penalty with the Guardian recently reporting that no executions have taken
place since May, despite another 46 being scheduled for 2015. It is quite possible that the Indonesian
Government is becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of the negative publicity
surrounding these executions, especially as its economy weakens and it looks to foreign investors
inject much needed capital into the country