Reading this blog can sometimes seem depressing as we highlight individuals imprisoned for their beliefs; the widespread use of torture around the world; the use of the death penalty and recently, a desire by some of our (UK) politicians to abolish the Human Rights Act.
There are successes however, some of which have been a long time in the making. After six years of legal proceedings and campaigning by Amnesty members around the world, Shell Oil have at last been made to pay for the devastation caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta.
Others successes have been unprecedented. For the first time ever, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that UK secret services acted illegally in their surveillance activities.
And that’s not all. Because of you Guadalupe found justice in El Salvador. With a window of just 48 hours, we asked you to tweet El Salvador’s members of parliament calling for a pardon for Guadalupe – a young woman imprisoned after suffering a miscarriage. Every tweet counted: her pardon was granted by a majority of just one vote. Thank you. We’re continuing our work to ensure Salvadoran women are not criminalised by the total abortion ban in the country
Burma has dropped off the radar in the last couple of years and things have improved there. But not totally and there are still prisoners of conscience. For example, long-standing prisoner of conscience Dr Tun Aung has recently secured release.
February saw two historic victories in the age-old battle for the right to privacy and free expression. The USA and UK’s past intelligence-sharing on Communications surveillance was ruled illegal and the Security Services conceded their current regime for intercepting legally privileged communications is also unlawful. These landmark rulings, in which Amnesty were co-claimants, should mean there are more significant positive changes ahead.
A great step towards justice was made in January when three journalists imprisoned in Egypt had their sentences overturned on the basis of a flawed trial. Peter Greste was allowed to return home to Australia but Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed are awaiting a retrial in Egypt, currently set for 22 April. Egypt must now drop all charges against them and free, not retry these prisoners of conscience.
Forced to sign a confession after being kidnapped and tortured by marines, Claudia Medina Tamariz has had the last of the charges against her dropped, and she is now a free woman. Claudia thanked the 300,000 Amnesty members around the world who demanded justice. We continue to call for an investigation into the torture she suffered, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
A month after Claudia’s release, the Mexican president came to the UK and we delivered your Stop Torture petition signatures to him – in a giant piñata. Ahead of the visit you called on the UK representatives meeting him to raise the issue of torture. Guess what? They did. Thanks to Amnesty supporters campaigning, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland all helped send a strong message: it’s time for Mexico to respect human rights.
So campaigning does sometimes work.
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