COMMITMENT TO LONG-TERM WORK ON BEHALF OF PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE

DECIDES to increase the number of cases available for membership action via the Individuals Portfolio, and by establishing measurable goals for long-term casework, reporting regularly on the progress in meeting these goals, and creating a mechanism for constructive response to feedback on IS decisions concerning individual long-term case work.

Explanatory note

Amnesty International aids individual victims at risk based on their unique human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent international human rights covenants and treaties.

Prisoner of Conscience work is central to Amnesty International and should  be expressed in the new Integrated Strategic Plan and all subsequent operational plans.

The movement should commit, through its cooperation with the International Secretariat and the International Executive Committee, to individual long-term casework.

This resolution calls for more and specific commitments, as well as a maintenance of the key role of the Prisoner of Conscience in the work of Amnesty International. As AI has broadened its scope, the manner in which AI takes up work has changed. In the shift to more campaign-oriented, thematic work, concerns have grown that AI might lose its focus from work on behalf of individuals. For example, ICM 2003 Decision 8 states that AI would “include Individuals at Risk as a cross-cutting issue in the ISP”. Additionally, ICM 2003 Decision 11 further charged the International Executive Committee (IEC) to ensure that methods are developed to endure that long-term work on individual cases is done effectively and in accordance with the “strategic priorities.” Goal 3 of the final 2004-2010 ISP states that AI will work to free Prisoners of Conscience (POCs). In addition, AI Sweden brought a resolution to the 2005 ICM calling for more work on POCs.

This resolution is concerned with the long-term work on individuals, especially POCs, which is now coordinated through a database, the Individuals Portfolio. One outcome of the 2008 IS review of all open Action Files was that the IS will no longer produce an action form called “Action File.” Instead, cases for which the IS research teams seek membership action will be added to the Individuals Portfolio, and AI sections will be able to engage in work on virtually any and all cases contained in the Portfolio, depending on their capacity to do so. The Portfolio is intended to contain a limited number of cases for supported, long-term work that is emblematic of AI’s human rights concerns. The number of cases in the Portfolio is tied to capacity for sustaining work and research. Decision-making authority for which cases are included in the Portfolio has rested with the IS, and no clear appeal mechanism has been established by which AI sections might question the inclusion or exclusion of a given case.

AI has grown as an organization, yet, in comparison to the number of cases worked on in the past, it works on few Individuals at Risk (IAR), especially POC, cases now. In 1985, for example, the IS created 2,257 case sheets. By 1991, there were 975. After the shift to Action Files for long-term casework in 1991, Action File production decreased each year from 860 newly created Action Files in 1993 to 451 in 1996, 73 in 2001 and eleven in 2004. Action Files on behalf of POCs were not to be closed until resolved. As of December 2008 the Portfolio contained approximately 138 cases, representing approximately 200 individuals. Cases will continue to be reviewed and can be moved in and out of the Portfolio. Those in the Portfolio are assigned one of four levels: draft, active, dormant, and closed.

Active cases are those for which AI will direct resources for campaigning and research. The Secretary General has verbally committed the IS to increasing the number of cases available for action in the Individuals Portfolio to 500.

With the move to the Individuals at Risk Portfolio for long-term casework, more cases have been closed, including those of living POCs. For AI to keep only a few POCs or other IAR cases in a country and drop others could damage our reputation because, instead of appearing to help individuals, it could appear that individual cases only matter for their symbolic value for the broader campaign. The devaluation of POC work could be devastating to the membership and fundraising of AI because, without a strong commitment to individual POCs, many members may choose to leave AI and also could damage AI’s reputation around the world and even impede fundraising if it is perceived that we are abandoning cases to which we were already doing long-term work and showing our commitment.

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One Comment on “COMMITMENT TO LONG-TERM WORK ON BEHALF OF PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE”

  1. cp4ab0lishm3nt Says:

    I think this issue is rather important are there any actions to be undertaken by AI members in Malaysia.


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