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We put a human face on complex issues to hold governments accountable.

Below you’ll find breaking news as well as reports, updates on our campaigns, and victories.

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Update

The Effect of the Girl Effect

Yesterday I saw this clever, 2 minute video called the Girl Effect that basically says that a girl can save the world!  It shows how by giving a girl an education and opportunities she can improve the situation of an entire community.  It is thought provoking and inspiring and takes 2 minutes to watch. For me, the video underlines the importance of acheiveing human rights for women and girls.  Too many people argue that social practices that harm girls or in some way disadvantage them are just "culture" or "tradition" and therefore the West should not interfere.  My response? Human rights…

December 9, 2008

Update

Wanted: US Leadership to Prevent Genocide

Dear President-elect Obama, As a candidate for president, you clearly stated how you will respond to mass atrocities and genocide: “The United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes. We are the most powerful nation in the world. We have the most stake in creating an order in the world that is stable and in which people have hope in opportunity. And when you see a genocide, whether it’s in Rwanda, or Bosnia, or Darfur, that’s a stain on all of us. That’s a stain on our souls. (...) We can’t say ‘never again’ and then allow…

December 8, 2008

Update

What Do O.J. Simpson and Attorney General Michael Mukasey Have in Common?

Consider the following two statements: 1.“I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong.” [There is no evidence those involved. . . did what they did] “for any reason other than to protect the security in the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful. In those circumstances, there is no occasion to consider prosecution. . .” The first statement was made by O.J. Simpson in pleading for leniency as he was being sentenced for charges that included armed robbery and kidnapping in the course of attempting to recover sports…

December 8, 2008

Update

Blackwater Indictment Good Step; Better Law Next Step

In indicting five Blackwater personnel, and accepting a guilty plea of a sixth, for the 2007 Nisour Square shootings resulting in the death of 17 Iraqis, the Justice Department relied on a much discussed law, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) to get jurisdiction over the contractors. (U.S. criminal law is generally restricted to the confines of U.S. territories and thus inapplicable to crimes committed elsewhere.) A debate about whether MEJA would apply to these contractors centered on one question: whether State Department security contractors, including Blackwater, could be said to be supporting a Defense Department mission in Iraq, and…

December 8, 2008

Update

Do Desperate Times Really Call For Desperate Measures?

Recently, lawmakers in Mexico have proposed reinstating the death penalty to deal with rising kidnapping and murder rates.  According to the LA Times, lawmakers will hear arguments regarding this amendment to the constitution next week.  Talk of executing criminals in Mexico has become more frequent by some politicians as the number of unsolved kidnappings, many resulting in murder, soars.  One such lawmaker said, “In Coahuila the death penalty is not the issue, it's how we should kill (the criminals); by firing squad, slashing their throats, hanging or something lighter, like lethal injection.” But let’s step back for a minute.  The…

December 5, 2008

Update

Time to Start Writing, Stamping, and Sending!

Today is the first official day of Amnesty International's 2008 Global Write-a-thon! Over the next week and a half, thousands of people around the world will be writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, and other individuals at risk. Because so many people around the world are participating, authorities will receive a tidal wave of letters appealing for the human rights of these individuals, and they will find it hard to ignore. There has already been a huge amount of interest in the US. Over 6,800 people have registered on the AIUSA website, pledging to write over…

December 5, 2008

Update

A Sad Anniversary

Remember these men from Indonesia? Monday was the four year anniversary of their arrest, and Amnesty is encouraging people to blitz the Indonesian government with emails on their behalf. Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage, who are also featured in this year's Write-a-thon, were arrested and sentenced to prison sentences of 15 and 10 years, respectively, for their nonviolent activities. Amnesty International considers the two men to be prisoners of conscience. Please take a few minutes out of your day to campaign for the release of these men.

December 4, 2008

Update

The Real Story Behind Abu Ghraib

Standard Operating Procedure, directed by Errol Morris, tells the dark story behind the infamous photographs of detainee abuse and humiliation that came out of Abu Ghraib in 2004. The images are haunting and uncomfortably familiar. Pictures of naked detainees stacked in a pyramid, a hooded prisoner standing on a box waiting to be electrocuted, a U.S. soldier giving the thumbs-up in front of a dead inmate in a body bag—these images are burned into minds around the world as symbols of the United States’ “war on terror.” At face value, these images just show the ugly side of a few…

December 3, 2008

Update

Can a Women's Rights Treaty Make any Difference?

Earlier this week, President-elect Obama made a commitment to push for Senate ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This treaty has been signed by several Presidents (including President Jimmy Carter in 1980) but has never reached the Senate floor. That's a 20 year denial of women's rights.  The United States bears the shame of being the only industrialized country which has not ratified it. The question is, would ratifying an international treaty make any difference?  The answer is yes, CEDAW is important!  The treaty has been a vital tool for women's rights activists in countries which…

December 3, 2008

Update

Inmate ordered off death row in North Carolina

Clinton Smith, a man sentenced to die in 1998 for the death of his daughter, was ordered off death row last week by state Supreme Court judge John Jolly, Jr.  Mr. Smith cannot read or write and has an IQ of less than 70.  He was found to be mentally retarded and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty, according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia.   His sentence was changed to life in prison.  The question remains, however, as to why Mr. Smith’s death sentence was not lessened six years ago after the Court ruled that…

December 3, 2008

Update

A Stronger US Stance Against Mass Atrocities?

With every day that passes, grave human rights violations continue in places like Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burma. President-elect Barack Obama’s recent personnel decisions have fostered speculations that we will see a stronger US stance against the mass atrocities that are perpetrated in these countries. Obama’s most recent pick: Today, he nominated Susan Rice as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007, Rice has described US policy towards the crisis in Darfur as “Inaction in the Face of Genocide”. Jerry Fowler of the Save Darfur Coalition praised the appointment…

December 2, 2008

Update

Parliamentarians Debate Women's Rights

The Inter-Parliamentary Union is bringing together members of parliament from around the world this week for a conference on “A Parliamentary Response to Violence Against Women”. During this conference, parliamentarians will discuss the role they can play in ending violence against women. The legislature can play a critical role in ending abuses and achieving rights for women, particularly by introducing laws that fulfill the “three ps” - prevent violence, protect survivors of violence and punish perpetrators of violence. In our own United States Congress, there is a bill to end violence against women around the world, the International Violence Against…

December 2, 2008