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Project information

Defend human rights worldwide

By mobilising in support of individuals at risk across the world, we can show repressive regimes and human rights abusers that the world is watching. With a wealth of testimony from survivors and ex-prisoners of conscience, we know that this approach works, and saves lives.

November 2010 - November 2011

Charity information: Amnesty International

Amnesty International
  • Need


    Last year alone, 48 countries around the world continued to detain people solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. In Iran, women’s human rights defenders face harassment, arrest and violence for peaceful demonstrations. In China, lawyers who defend the rights of others risk imprisonment and torture. In Burma, where thousands of political prisoners remain in detention, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's last democratically-elected leader.


    Even the most brutal of governments can be susceptible to international pressure. For nearly five decades, Amnesty has been working to highlight the individual stories of people facing arbitrary arrest, unfair trials, and abusive prison conditions, and mobilise our supporters to call for their release. We know from the testimonies of survivors that this pressure can deter abuses, and ultimately help to secure their release. We work on hundreds of cases every year.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Bring protection to those at immediate risk of death, torture or ill-treatment


    » Ongoing human rights monitoring work on more than 100 countries around the world
    » Where an imminent risk of human rights abuse becomes apparent, prepare and disseminate an "Urgent Action" briefing for immediate publication
    » Mobilisation of our Urgent Action Network, which has 80,000 members worldwide, who can take action at short notice when someone is in immediate danger

    What success will look like

    Success will be a prisoner release, an improvement in prison conditions, threats against an individual ceasing, or a death sentence being commuted, following an Urgent Action

    Aim 2

    Secure improvements for the 32 individuals highlighted in our annual "Greetings Card" campaign


    » Focussed research work to identify 32 individuals unjustly imprisoned or otherwise under threat, who could benefit from the "Greetings Card" approach
    » Produce and publish a detailed case file on each of the 32 cases
    » Between November and January each year, mobilise the public to send greetings cards to these 32 individuals.
    » Monitor and publicise outcomes on each individual case, with follow-up actions throughout the year

    What success will look like

    Success will be the release of those among the 32 who are in prison, and improved security (eg. an end to threats/harassment) in the other key cases

    Aim 3

    Build public awareness of the situation of prisoners of conscience and others at risk of abuse


    » Both proactive and reactive work media work to highlight individual prisoner of conscience and "Urgent Action" cases
    » Workshops and nationwide talks by survivors of human rights abuses
    » Organisation of the Amnesty International "Journalism Under Threat" award to to journalists who have taken great personal risks to pursue their work

    What success will look like

    Success will be increased media coverage of key cases, & increased numbers of people engaging in this campaign

  • Impact


    The clearest indicator of success is when a survivor credits Amnesty with helping to secure an improvement in their situation. Our immediate beneficiaries are thus those who win their freedom or improved security through our intervention. As those we support are often human rights activists in their own right, this work can also bring longer-term benefits to the wider community, by empowering individuals to continue defending others, and deterring future state abuses.


    In any individual case, Amnesty has to evaluate the risk that our intervention could have unintended consequences. The weight of survivor testimony suggests that international attention can bring significant additional protections, even when a person remains in detention. But each case requires a tailored risk assessment.


    Amnesty closely monitors response and outcomes on all of our activities, highlighting key developments such as prisoner releases and policy changes, and providing regular online updates. Our research teams will produce 3 monthly reports on progress against objectives throughout this campaign.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £223,435

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      Amount Heading Description
      £45,000 Urgent Action Network Developing, printing & mailing Urgent Action Network casework and materials
      £151,510 Staff costs Employing a programme manager, three campaigners, and a researcher/team assistant
      £26,925 GCC/awareness-raising 45,000 Greetings Card campaign packs, speaker events, activist materials, actions and meetings
  • Background


    Amnesty International is based in the UK, with supporters & subscribers in over 150 countries around the world. Last year's Greetings Card campaign featured cases from Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burma, China, Colombia, Cuba, Congo (DRC), Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iran, Israel/Palestine, Kenya, Laos, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Syria, Turkey, USA and Zimbabwe.


    Our key beneficiaries will be those individuals featured in our Greetings Card Campaign and in Urgent Action appeals during 2010/11. Work on an individual case can also benefit other human rights defenders in the same country, by focussing international attention on the wider situation. Our work is partly reactive, based on current crisis zones. In 2009 Amnesty found evidence of unfair trials in 55 countries, prisoners of conscience in 48 countries, and torture or ill-treatment in 111 countries.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Amnesty International is the largest human rights organisation in the world, with over 2 million members in 150 countries worldwide, including 270,000 in the UK alone. We have a hard-won reputation for robust research and campaigning, and nearly five decades of experience working to support and empower human rights defenders across the globe.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    James Savage

    Individuals at Risk Programme Manager, Amnesty International UK

    Ruth Dawson

    Individuals at Risk Campaigner, Amnesty International UK

    Natalie Smith

    Individuals at Risk Campaigner - Urgent Actions, Amnesty International UK