Urgent Actions are the most effective instrument Amnesty has for people in danger.
Information on urgent cases of human rights abuses will be investigated by the International Secretariat in London and subsequently made public. Within hours, a network of 75,000 volunteers in 85 countries will come into action. Using the information provided by the International Secretariat, letters of urgency will be drawn up and sent out to those responsible, be it authorities, heads of states or religious leaders.
These appeals contain a precise and factual description of the individual case, point out violated rights and treaties, and state Amnesty International’s demands for the specific case. The aim of these appeals coming from all over the world is to let the competent authorities know that the world is aware of the case and to move them to changing the situation.
The great strength of this kind of activity is speed. We use it when immediate and vigorous action is required, for instance in cases of torture, life-threatening prison conditions, imminent death penalty or when prisoners ‘disappear’.
This method is in fact very effective: About 811 Urgent Actions were instigated in 2003. Over 40 per cent of those led to positive results, i.e. the release of prisoners, improved prison conditions, conversion of death sentences, ‘reappearance’ of people who had ‘disappeared’, or charges brought against persons responsible for human rights violations, who had been spared previously. For more information on current Urgent Actions, please click here.