Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Amnesty International and its “Prisoners of Conscience”

Posted by Info on 27/05/2011

Amnesty International, has declared Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev “prisoners of conscience.” after the first statemen to refuse this label of “ prisoners of conscience”. What is going on in Amnesty international, Ms Nicola Duckworth?

The term “prisoner of conscience,” introduced 50 years ago by the founder of Amnesty International, British lawyer Peter Benenson, can only be applied to people persecuted for their convictions. However, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been sentenced not for their convictions but for economic crimes.
Complaints about procedural irregularities and other shortcomings of the Russian system of justice, which is indeed far from perfect, are common in Russia. You hear them from the lawyers and the advocates of nearly all defendants.
Russia’s justice system was sharply criticized during a recent hearing on the murder of lawyer and human rights activist Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, a 25-year-old journalist who had been walking alongside Markelov. However, AI disregarded that criticism and said it was satisfied with the investigation.

AI’s stated goals are “to defend freedom of expression, to protect women’s rights, to abolish the death penalty, to demand justice for crimes against humanity and corporate accountability where companies have abused people’s rights.”
The organization is working hard toward these goals, but there is one drawback: in the 50 years since its founding, AI has grown into a global human rights network, and its size has become an obstacle to its work.
An organization with a general secretary, an international secretariat and a staff of 500 is a bureaucratic structure, and the purity and idealism of its initial designs inevitably succumb to red tape.
When an organization turns into a kind of a medieval order and becomes drunk on its own self-importance, the mentality of its staff changes. On the other hand, Amnesty International is like a trade union that does not accept new members easily.
As such, the status of a political prisoner or “prisoner of conscience,” which it confers at its discretion, sometimes looks like those Soviet-era allowances granted only to union members.

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