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.
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 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 ActionRead our Statement for the Record on US use of drone strikes.
  • 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. Read our latest report and take the steps in our Action Brief aimed at urging President Biden to close Guantánamo and transfer the detainees.
  • See and share our member toolkit on how to help close the Guantanamo detention camp!
  • Join the annual protest in front of the White House on the anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. See our last live protest here. And watch and share this short video cut from the 20th anniversary virtual rally to Close Guantanamo.
  • 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”, read the new book, Don’t Forget Us Here, 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.
  • Read and share this letter from more than 100 organizations urging President Biden to close Guantánamo; this letter from former Guantánamo detainees; and this op-ed in Newsweek from former detainee Mohamedou Salahi.
Statistics

39

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

March 9, 2022 • Press Release

Russian ‘dumb bomb’ air strike killed civilians in Chernihiv – new investigation and testimony

A Russian air strike that reportedly killed 47 civilians in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv may constitute a war crime, Amnesty International said today following an investigation into the attack.

March 1, 2022 • Press Release

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine is an act of aggression and human rights catastrophe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a manifest violation of the United Nations Charter and an act of aggression that is a crime under international law, said Amnesty International as it called for all those involved in this crime to be held accountable for those violations. Their personal, individual, and collective liability should be invoked for that, and for all the many crimes that have characterized their invasion of Ukraine thus far.

February 27, 2022 • Press Release

Cluster munitions kill child and two other civilians taking shelter at a preschool in Ukraine

A preschool in north-eastern Ukraine was hit on the morning of February 25 with widely-banned cluster munitions while civilians took shelter inside, killing three of them, including a child, and wounding another child, Amnesty International said today. The attack appears to have been carried out by Russian forces, which were operating nearby, and which have a shameful record of using cluster munitions in populated areas.

January 7, 2022 • Press Release

20 Years Later, US Government Continues to Perpetuate Grave Human Rights Abuses at Guantánamo Prison

The military prison at Guantánamo Bay continues to facilitate grave violations of human rights by the U.S. Government. Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the military prison’s opening on January 11, 2001, Daphne Eviatar, Director of the Security with Human Rights Program at Amnesty International USA, said: “This is an anniversary that should never have been reached. Since the Bush administration, there has been agreement among national security experts and across the political spectrum that the Guantánamo prison – a notorious site of torture and unjustifiable indefinite detention – should be closed.

December 14, 2021 • Report

Government Collapse in Afghanistan Marked by ‘Repeated War Crimes and Relentless Bloodshed’ – New Report

The Taliban, United States military, and Afghan security forces were all responsible for attacks that resulted in extensive civilian suffering before the country’s government collapsed earlier this year, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

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.

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