Newsroom

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.

If you are a member of the press, please reach out to [email protected]

Update

Texas' Reluctant Jurors

Today, Time wonders if Texas is "Changing its Mind About the Death Penalty." There is ample evidence that something is happening.  According to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) year-end report, there were only 11 death sentences in the Lone Star state in 2008, and a grand total of Zero in Harris County (which by itself is responsible for over 100 executions in the last 26 years).  To a certain extent, this apparent shift in attitude (at least in the jury room) mirrors broader national (and even international) trends, but the idea of Texans going along with…

December 23, 2008

Update

Our Top 10 Wins of 2008

Thank you Amnesty International activists for all of your important work this year! Your activism has led to some major advances in human rights in our battles against torture, violence against women, the conflict in Darfur, ending the death penalty and protecting prisoners of conscience and other individuals and at risk around the world. Check out our top 10 wins below and watch our year-in-review video Top 10 Words of 2008. Here are just a few wins you can take credit for: 1.5 million letters: online and hand written letters delivered to governments worldwide and Congress here at home. 116…

December 19, 2008

Update

One of These Is Not Like the Other

(A) A white millionaire and (B) an indigent black man … Same state … Both convicted of capital murder … Which one do you think gets the death penalty?  If you answered (B) - and I know you did - then, of course, you’re right. In the state of New Hampshire, which hasn’t carried out an execution since 1939 and has no death row or execution chamber, Michael Addison, an indigent black man convicted of killing a white police officer, today received the first death sentence in New Hampshire in almost 50 years.  In early November, John “Jay” Brooks, a…

December 18, 2008

Update

New Jersey: One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, Dec. 17, 2007, New Jersey Gov. John Corzine signed into law the bill abolishing the death penalty in New Jersey.  It was the first time in 42 years that a state had legislatively ended capital punishment (Iowa and West Virginia did it in 1965), and made the Garden State the 14th abolitionist state in the U.S.  New Jersey politicians showed real leadership on this issue, and should be thanked. What has been the result in New Jersey's first year without the death penalty?  Has violent crime sky-rocketed?  Are wild dogs roaming the streets?  Are murderous zombies now regularly…

December 17, 2008

Update

Don't Forget the Victims in Georgia

“Now I don’t have a house. The weather is nice and I can sleep in the garden, but I don’t know what to do when the rain comes. Nobody is helping me.” A former teacher, Kazbek Djiloev, shared his hardship with us a few months ago as he stood before the ruins of his home in Tskhinvali. His house was one of many that were shelled during the recent Georgia-Russia conflict.   We captured this man’s story as an example of how such a military clash impacts civilians. He echoes the voices of thousands more civilian victims, many of whom…

December 17, 2008

Update

Interview with a hero

One of Amnesty International's most important responsibilities is to support the human rights activists doing the difficult work on the ground in the countries around the world.  Increasingly, particularly in the Middle East, it's become the opinion of Amnesty International country specialists that our ability to change the world depends on our ability to create space for these grass-root activists to exist. One such activist is Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad, a 57 year old Egyptian lawyer and one of the founders of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, named after another Egyptian human rights lawyer.  He has been an engine driving…

December 16, 2008

Update

Make Your Voice Heard for Change!

Change.org wants you to change our government.  Inspired by President-elect Obama’s commitment to “open the doors of government,” Change.org is offering people an opportunity to send ideas to the incoming administration that will bring real, tangible solutions for our country.  They will then present the “Top 10 Ideas for America” to the Obama administration on Inauguration Day and work with partner organizations to turn those ideas into specific policies. At Amnesty, we know that one of the most important changes our nation can make is to restore its respect for human rights and the rule of law.  A crucial first…

December 16, 2008

Update

Portugal’s Bold Initiative Highlights U.S. Hypocrisy on Guantanamo

Last week Portugal offered to accept some Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for release by the Pentagon but who cannot return to their home countries. In a letter to his counterparts in other European Union countries, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado urged them to do the same. Portugal’s commendable initiative is based on a recognition that it is no longer acceptable for European governments to sit back and carp from the sidelines. Closing Guantanamo simply cannot be accomplished without other governments’ assistance in resettling some of the detainees.  According to the New York Times, Luis Serradas Tavares, a legal…

December 15, 2008

Update

United Nations Must Re-Impose Arms Embargo on DRC Government Forces

According to a UN Panel of Expert’s report released last Friday, government security forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are providing arms and ammunition to the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) in violation of the UN arms embargo on DRC.  In addition, the DRC government continues to be a major source of weapons for other armed groups in the DRC. Mainly a Rwandan Hutu armed insurgent group that contains remnants of forces allegedly responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, FDLR has been responsible for mass atrocities, including the unlawful killings of civilians, abductions, and rape, and continues…

December 15, 2008

Update

Human Rights Made Whole

Yesterday, the U.N. General Assembly marked Human Rights Day by unanimously adopting the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR). This historic step fills in a crucial gap in the human rights framework; former High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has described the OP-ICESCR as making human rights whole. But to the media this looks like U.N. inside baseball, and they haven't so much as mentioned it. (ReliefWeb, a U.N. humanitarian information portal, covered it; and here's AI's press release.) So what's it all about? In a word, it provides a means for redress…

December 12, 2008

Update

Australia to join Internet Censors? U.S. Companies Can't Be Allowed to Help.

The New York Times reported yesterday that “[t]he Australian government plans to test a nationwide Web filtering system that would force Internet service providers to block access to thousands of sites containing questionable or illegal content, prompting cries of censorship from advocacy groups.”   Not surprisingly, according to the article, Australia is using the same tried-and-true justification of needing to protect itself (and its citizens) from terrorism and child pornography.   It’s not to say that child pornography and terrorism aren’t legitimate concerns. It’s just that these are the same, all-too-often abused excuses used to cast a much wider net…

December 12, 2008

Update

Maryland Commission Calls for Abolition

Today, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment made it official, formally recommending in its Final Report that Maryland repeal the death penalty. The report’s final recommendation concludes: “For all of these reasons—to eliminate racial and jurisdictional bias, to reduce unnecessary costs, to lessen the misery that capital cases force victims of family members to endure, to eliminate the risk that an innocent person can be convicted—the Commission strongly recommends that capital punishment be abolished in Maryland.” The Maryland General Assembly (which created the Commission) will take up the issue when its 2009 session begins about a month from now, on…

December 12, 2008