Posts Tagged ‘India’


Attached is the monthly death penalty report prepared with thanks by group member Lesley.  It covers Egypt; Pakistan, India, Belarus and the USA.  Note, as always, that China does not feature as its death penalty statistics are a state secret.  They are believed to execute more people than the rest of the world combined.

January – February report (Word)

No to the death penalty

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Following some negative press articles, the Chair and Director of Amnesty UK have responded in detail and this is their statement below.

We both wanted to write to you directly in the light of the recent negative media coverage about Amnesty International. This is a difficult time for our movement and we hope that it is helpful for us to explain what has happened, how Amnesty International UK is affected and how the issues raised are being handled.

There have been two areas of recent media attention:

– the first has been culture and management practice at the International Secretariat
– the second has been allegations of caste-based discrimination at Amnesty India.

Taking each of these in turn:

1.Culture and management practice at Amnesty International, International Secretariat (IS)

In Summer 2018 Amnesty’s International Secretariat (IS) commissioned independent reviews following the tragic suicides of two International Secretariat staff members.
The reports produced describe a very difficult working culture at the International Secretariat and unacceptable management practices, attitudes and behaviours. There has been coverage of all or some of these reports in The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail.

We have both been shocked by what we have read in the reports about some of the management practices, and the culture at the IS, and it is absolutely right that the new Secretary General of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo, deals with this as a matter of priority. He has our utmost support in doing that.

Kumi has said:

“The tragic deaths of our beloved colleagues Gaëtan Mootoo and Rosalind McGregor have triggered important questions here at Amnesty International about staff-wellbeing.

We accept and welcome the findings and criticisms of all three independent reviews that have been commissioned into these tragic events.

While the review into Rosalind McGregor’s death concludes that her working situation at Amnesty International did not play a significant, if any, role in her tragic decision, what all three reviews make clear is that we have a difficult but necessary journey ahead of us in improving wellbeing.

As I have reiterated to staff, I have made it one of my priorities to address instances where individuals have been found wanting, in our senior leadership team or elsewhere. Unacceptable management practices, attitudes and behaviours cannot and will not be tolerated at any level in the organization.

However, the issues highlighted go beyond the question of individual accountability. It is clear we need radically to rethink our approach to staff wellbeing and culture and we are in the process of establishing and rolling out credible and effective wellbeing measures. The recommendations of this review complement current approaches and identify concrete steps towards delivering a comprehensive commitment to staff wellbeing and health. I will be making this one of my core priorities from here on in.”

It is important to make it clear that the reports are not referring to Amnesty International UK. They refer only to our International Secretariat, which is in a different part of London. AIUK has our own building, board of trustees, charity number, senior management and staff team.

However, we are all one Amnesty family, and there must be lessons that we can learn at AIUK from the report, and we too will prioritise work on staff wellbeing and welfare. We completely share Kumi’s commitment to put wellbeing at the heart of our work across the Amnesty movement and his view that we need to look after each other and develop compassion and mutual care to help Amnesty International become the uplifting community it needs to be.

We hope this can give you reassurance that Amnesty, across the movement, is taking these issues very seriously and is committed to improving the way we work together in order to create an environment which allows us to flourish and effectively deliver the important work we do.

We have had some feedback from supporters in response to the media reports. To date we have had 10 membership cancellations. We do hope that your campaigning is not directly affected by this, and please do get in touch if we can help you respond to feedback that you receive.

2. Allegations of caste-based discrimination at Amnesty India

An article relating to allegations of discrimination at Amnesty India was published online in the Guardian on February 15th. The article alleges that staff were discriminated against because of their caste.

Amnesty India has a long-standing policy of promoting diversity through affirmative action in recruitment and tries to ensure the workplace reflects the diversity of India across gender, caste, religion and disability. Over 40% of the current workplace identifies as – using Indian government definitions – Dalit, Adivasi or ‘other backward class’, according to a staff survey in 2018. Across their six offices, there were two formal complaints about discrimination and harassment in 2018. Both were dismissed after thorough investigations.

Amnesty India has commissioned a review by an independent committee whose report has just been published. The committee was headed by Dr. Syeda Hameed, an eminent activist and writer.

The report has now been shared with staff at Amnesty India and is available with responses from the board and management on the Amnesty India website.

Aakar Patel, Head of Amnesty India, has said in response:

“We are grateful to the Syeda Hameed Committee for their report, whose release was delayed because of disruptions caused by the Enforcement Directorate raid on our offices. It reassures us that we’ve made our workplace diverse in many ways and followed due process in dealing with complaints, but also reminds us that we have a long way to go to address discrimination in all its forms.

We accept all the findings of the committee, and we will ensure that we implement the recommendations made by it and the board to protect employee well-being. We will reinvigorate our efforts to show our staff, members and partners, that respect and dignity are not just things we campaign for externally but are values at the heart of our organization.”

It is critically important that discrimination of any sort is not tolerated within Amnesty International. Amnesty UK will support our new Secretary General’s commitment to tackling this.

In conclusion, we are very sorry to see Amnesty in the media in this way and we hope that it doesn’t negatively impact on the important campaigning and fundraising work that you are doing, and on overall our effectiveness as a section.

Most importantly, it is vital that the IS and the Amnesty movement as a whole learns from the findings of these reports, and our experience over the past year. We need to take the steps required to make Amnesty a better place to work and so become a more effective force for human rights change. We are both committed to that and we have both been impressed by Kumi’s commitment to make the changes needed. We are very pleased that he will be at our AGM and National Conference this year to speak and take questions. We hope you will be able to join us there.

Ruth Breddal and Kate Allen

End


If you are reading this in the Salisbury, Amesbury, Wilton or Downton areas, we would be pleased to welcome you to our local group.  The best way is to keep an eye on this site or on Facebook or Twitter and come along to one of our events.  We are hosting a film this Friday, 8 March at the Arts Centre and we shall be in evidence then.


The groups latest death penalty report is available here thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.  As always, we have to note that China is the worlds largest executioner but the statistics are a state secret.

Report (Word)


Attached is the current death penalty report thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.  Grim news on several fronts with Sri Lanka thinking of re-using the penalty.  China leads the world it is believed in the use of the penalty although details are a state secret.

On the issue of China, readers may like to read the website of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders which charts the systematic denial of human rights freedoms by the Chinese government.  Links to many human rights sites can be found at the bottom of this site.

Report – June/July (pdf)

 

 


We attach the death penalty report for April thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.

April report (Word)


UPDATE  The Amnesty death penalty report is now to hand and can be accessed here.

The latest death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for the work in compiling it.

Note that China remains the world’s leader in executions but the details and statistics are a state secret.

Report (Word)


If you would like to join the local group you would be very welcome.  Keep and eye on this site and on Facebook and Twitter for details of activities and come along and make yourself known.  It is free to join the local group.


The monthly death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for her hard work on this.  Discusses USA; India; Egypt among other countries.  China remains the world’s largest executioner of its own citizens but information is regarded as a state secret.

Nov – Dec report (Word)

No to the death penalty


The latest death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  Generally gloomy with several countries around the world reverting – or threatening to revert to – the penalty.

Death penalty report (Word)

No to the death penalty


No to the death penaltyWe attach the latest monthly death penalty report with thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  A fairly full report with a big section on Turkey which is contemplating reintroducing the death penalty following the recent failed coup.

August report (pdf)


 

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Lobbying and business influence in government at a high level.  MPs receive millions for lobbying

We have frequently drawn attention to the issue of corporate influence on our political process and in particular, the role of oil and arms companies.  We have recently seen three leaders from China, Egypt and India, visit the UK and be given the red carpet treatment.  Each has – to put it mildly – a poor human rights record.

In the case of China it includes the use of torture, shutting down the freedom of speech and more executions than the rest of the world put together.  Egypt has been involved in mass arrests and torture and President Modi of India has a dubious record in terms of the treatment of Muslims.

It seems as though the ‘prosperity agenda’ is eclipsing all else and the only thing that matters seemingly, is the pursuit of business and contracts.  No one is arguing for boycotts but that the issue of human rights be brought up in discussion with these leaders.

A factor in this is the role of lobbyists and a recent analysis by Transparency International is worrying and should receive wider coverage.

Analysing the new UK Register of Lobbyists and data from Parliamentary registers of interests, their new research has found:

  • Less than 4% of lobbyists are covered by the Government’s new lobbying register – almost all lobbyists are completely unaccountable.
  • 8/10 of the most frequent lobbyists are from FTSE 100 companies – lobbying is dominated by the corporate world.
  • £3.4 million paid to 73 MP’s last year for external advisory roles – a significant risk of conflicts of interest.
  • Payments for Parliamentary advice is still allowed in the House of Commons, but prohibited in the House of Lords, Scotland and Wales – a major loophole in the rules (TI’s emphasis)

The findings come after detailed analysis of research across Westminster, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The report can be read on their web site or can be accessed here[There is also a permanent link to their site at the bottom of our page under ‘Links‘]

With such a high level of corporate lobbying and with the substantial level of fees MPs are earning, it is perhaps not surprising that business interests get such a high profile and human rights issues so low.

It appears from the report that the situation has got worse under the new government.  There were some publications of meetings with lobbyists concerning the previous year but that now seems to have stopped.  Most of the lobbying it seems is around domestic matters for example, firms trying to get a slice of the health service.

Business is important and of course companies should be free to lobby.  But it should be transparent and registered.  More importantly, business interests should not trump all else.  The government is not after all some kind of selling operation for FTSE 100 companies.

UPDATE: 16 NOVEMBER

It’s not about human rights but as if to illustrate the point, it’s just been reported the ex Health Minister, Lord Lansley, is to take up posts with firms hoping to profit from the NHS. 

Andrew Lansley and the revolving door