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Turn on the television or open any newspaper these days and you can sometimes think the world is getting worse, not better.
At Amnesty International we regularly hear appalling stories of abuse and persecution, but in one area things are definitely improving: the abolition of the death penalty.
Amnesty has just published its global death penalty statistics and the good news is that the number of countries still executing prisoners is down (to just 18), significantly less than in previous years.
For the first time ever, last year there were no executions in Europe, and only the USA in the whole of north or south America put prisoners to death last year.
However, China itself executed thousands of people, including the British man Akmal Shaikh (despite fears he was mentally ill).
It’s no coincidence that countries with atrocious human rights records – China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq – also hanged, lethally injected or beheaded most prisoners.
Our message is that crime should always be dealt with firmly, but without the out-dated cruelty of the death penalty.
The good news is that this message is getting heard.
When Dr David Nicholl took on Birmingham firm Hiatts over evidence that they produced the shackles at Guantanamo he had a lot to be worried about. He coordinated an action with music, hippies, lawyers, a stand-up comedian, a large truck and a lot of orange. He was nervous about what his patients would think, worried that he might get an ASBO, felt the pressure of maintaining Amnesty’s reputation, concerned about what his wife might say and anxious about how it might be viewed in light of July 7th terrorist attacks. However, David knew what he was doing was standing up for truth, justice and human rights. He stuck to his guns and the action got great coverage. His courage sets a great example that other campaigners could learn from.
The Sutton Coldfield Amnesty International group action asking Shell to Clean Up Their Act in the Niger Delta took place yesterday. It was a successful action with a good response from the public. It was also an action supported by other groups including Central Birmingham Amnesty International. A photo of the action is above. To take action yourself visit www.amnesty.org.uk/shell
If you took part in this action do make comments below.
For those of you who are Amnesty International members I’d like to remind you that ballot papers have been sent out for the Board elections. Do remember to vote as one of the strengths of our organisation is our democracy.
With campaigning like much else in life there are ups and downs. This week had some really good news. There will be a worldwide ban on cluster bombs this year after Burkina Faso and Moldova ratified the international cluster munitions treaty. The ban needed at least 30 countries to ratify it before it could become law. Amnesty International were amongst many NGOs who campaigned for this treaty. See more at http://bit.ly/9VODbs
The Mid-Warwickshire Amnesty International Group’s Blog is now back up and running. Join in the debate on the Demand Dignity campaign and much, much, more at http://blogs.amnesty.org.uk/blogs.asp?bid=26