We all need safety from violence and terrorism, but no government should sacrifice people’s human rights in the name of national security.

Unfortunately, in the United States and beyond, that’s exactly what’s happening – and Amnesty International is helping stop it.

The Problem

On multiple fronts, the United States government is violating human rights in the name of national security, often in violation of both U.S. law and international law.

  • People have been held for years at the Guantánamo detention camp in Cuba without even being charged with a crime. Prisoners have been tortured and mistreated, and they are not given fair trials.
  • The U.S. has used lethal force, including through drone strikes, in several countries, leading to civilian deaths. Military operations have exposed civilians and U.S. service members to toxins that have led to devastating medical conditions.
  • Surveillance and targeting of Muslims – based on who they are, not what they’ve done – has fueled harassment, discrimination, and violence.
  • For years, the U.S. government allowed officials to torture people through horrific techniques that violate U.S. and international law. President Trump has vowed to expand the use of torture even further in the years ahead.
Amnesty In Action

Changing lives and policies

Amnesty International helps expose and end national security policies that violate human rights. We’ve secured fair treatment for people in individual cases, we’ve helped force the government to release information about its activities, and we’ve played a key role in helping end practices that abuse human rights.

  • The Trump administration has dramatically expanded the use of lethal strikes, including with drones, killing thousands of civilians and increasing the risk of unlawful killings. Amnesty International has documented large numbers of civilian deaths and injuries from U.S. air strikes that the U.S. government refuses to acknowledge, including in Syria and in Somalia. Some of these killings may have violated international law, but the U.S. military is keeping the evidence secret. Watch this video and Take Action.
  • Our research uncovers individual cases of people whose human rights are violated by U.S. national security policies, and we campaign to secure their rights. We campaign to close Guantánamo and ensure accountability for torture. Take action to demand the transfer of Guantanamo detainee Toffiq Al Bihani.
  • Join the annual protest in front of the White House on the anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.  See this year’s protest here.
  • We’re fighting President Trump’s Muslim Ban and mobilizing grassroots activists to push Congress to intervene. Take action to stop the Muslim Ban.
  • We mobilize grassroots activists to push for federal policies that protect safety and human rights together.
  • Are you an Educator? Use our National Security in Human Rights Toolkit in your classroom.
  • Watch the new movie, “The Report”, and Take Action to expose US torture.
  • We provided advice to the Department of Defense, based on our extensive on-the-ground research, on how to minimize and more effectively respond to civilian harm caused by US military actions, Download the paper here
Statistics

40

Number of people detained at Guantanamo by the end of January 2019.

13,000

Number of people deported under the NSEERS program, without being convicted of any crimes, before it was dismantled

132

Number of protests Amnesty International USA held in the weeks after President Trump issued his first Muslim Ban.

Case Study

Shaker Aamer

In 2002, Shaker Aamer, a U.K. resident and father of four, was one of the first people sent to the notorious makeshift prison the U.S. started at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Shaker was born in Saudi Arabia; he studied in Georgia and Maryland, and he worked as a translator for the U.S. Army during the Gulf War.

Shaker always maintained his innocence. He said he was subjected to torture for years. He was cleared for transfer out of Guantánamo in 2007, indicating that authorities had no plans to charge him – but he was not released.

Amnesty International campaigned aggressively for Shaker’s release for more than a decade – mobilizing thousands of people to write letters, directly advocating with the U.S. and U.K. governments, and working closely with his family and attorneys. Finally, in October 2015, Shaker was flown to the U.K. and freed. He had been imprisoned for 13 years without being charged with a crime.

security and human rights Work

November 17, 2020 • Advocacy and GR

Letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Miller

  The Honorable Christopher Miller Acting Secretary Department of Defense 1000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1000   RE:Amnesty International USA calls for halt to domestic deployments of military forces in …

September 30, 2020 • Advocacy and GR

Statement from AIUSA for HFAC Hearing on Democratic Backsliding in Sub-Saharan Africa

AIUSA Statement on The Impact of Eroding Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa on Democratic Practices 093020 Human Rights are essential for accountability, transparency and respect for the rule of law, …

August 28, 2020 • Post

Amnesty International Memo to Congress on Foreign Policy Human Rights Priorities for Next for Congress

August 24, 2020 Dear Representative: On behalf of Amnesty International USA, I am writing to share our top foreign policy and human rights policy recommendations. The list of issues that …

July 6, 2020 • Post

AIUSA letter to Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy Urging Trump administration to Press Nigeria to protect children in Northeast Nigeria from abuses driven by Boko Haram insurgency and government’s counter insurgency

The Honorable Tibor Nagy Assistant Secretary of State Bureau of African Affairs U.S. Department of State C and 22nd Street Washington DC 20520 June 9, 2020 Dear Assistant Secretary Nagy, …

October 27, 2016 • Post

America Isn’t Itself When It’s Afraid

When a society becomes overrun by fear, it can be primed to accept policies that undermine human rights while providing an illusion of safety and security. We’ve seen it time and again throughout U.S. history – with disastrously counterproductive results.

July 16, 2016 • Post

Fighting the Demonization of Ordinary American Muslims—Like Me

Gingrich’s comments are the latest in this trend: After horrific terrorism attacks, pundits take to cable news to offer discriminatory, anti-Muslim proposals and rhetoric.

April 28, 2016 • Post

CIA Torture Just Got One Step Closer to Facing Accountability

In an unprecedented victory for torture accountability, the U.S. Justice Department decided not to block a private lawsuit from going forward, and to actually allow survivors and victims of CIA torture to have their their day in court.

April 20, 2016 • Post

Torture Is Not the Answer

Too little, and much too late. CIA Director John Brennan this week declared that the CIA would refuse to engage in waterboarding in the future, even if ordered to do …

April 15, 2016 • Post

Scholars Jailed in Turkey’s On-Going War Against Freedom of Expression: How You Can Take Action

Turkey has suffered from a series of horrendous attacks in recent months. The security challenges it faces are very real. Unfortunately, the rhetoric coming out of Ankara suggests that, under the umbrella of fighting terrorism, the most basic civil liberties are to be targeted.

February 21, 2016 • Post

To be a Muslim in America Right Now

To be a Muslim in America right now is to fear that your best days — your most ordinary days — are behind you. Anti-Muslim hate and fear-mongering is going …