AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
WATCH

Powerful international NGOs have a far greater influence than they deserve and too much credibility. Accountable to no one, independently funded, no one really knows or can assess whether they are biased or not in each of their reports. While some like Amnesty and HRW may research their material and appear to be neutral in their assessments every time, no one can really evaluate their impartiality unless one sets out to investigate their background funding, behind-the-scenes researchers and the influences under which they operate.

 
Gutter Tactics of Amnesty International (AI) in Sri Lanka
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

'Amnesty' was founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a British labour lawyer, and Eric Baker, a Quaker and nuclear disarmament activist. Its initial focus was on letter writing campaigns in support of prisoners around the world who were 'tortured, imprisoned or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government'. In September 1962, the organization was renamed Amnesty International (AI). Adopting 'prisoners of conscience' became a favoured technique of the organization to exert pressure on governments.

Eventually, the ambit of AI's interests widened to include general human rights including the problem of child soldiers, the death penalty, and abortion rights. The latter was adopted only in 2007, to the fury of the Catholic Church which was a traditional supporter of AI. The question needs to be asked as to why abortion was given a cold shoulder by AI up until that time. Was this right suppressed in order to please the Catholic Church? And what other issues have been ignored? There has been criticism that the Israeli violations of human rights were ignored by AI, although recent tussles with Israeli authorities shows that that possible bias has now been corrected.

AI admits to focusing on democratic governments in its criticism because they are more prone to bending under public pressure. Famously, the Americans rejected AI criticism of its behaviour at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. The Israelis piled into AI for 'the pattern of biased, prejudiced, bigoted, one-sided judgments'. They have a point because, by attacking democracies for the sake of convenience, AI exempts terrorist organizations that cause democracies to engage in conflict in the first place. Compared to the lashings delivered to Sri Lanka by AI, the Tamil Tigers have got off easily. Sri Lanka can take comfort in 'Moynihan's Law' where the late US senator, a champion of human rights, stated that the number of complaints about a nation's violations of human rights is inversely proportional to actual violations.-Full Report-(AIW)

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