See A. Neier, War Crimes (1998).
International human-rights organization. It was founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a London lawyer who organized a letter-writing campaign calling for amnesty for “prisoners of conscience.” AI seeks to inform the public about violations of human rights, especially abridgments of freedom of speech and religion and the imprisonment and torture of political dissidents. It actively seeks the release of political prisoners and support of their families when necessary. Its members and supporters are said to number one million people in some 140 countries. Its first director, Sean MacBride, won the 1974 Nobel Prize for Peace; AI itself won the award in 1977.
Learn more about Amnesty International (AI) with a free trial on Britannica.com.
The first New Zealand Amnesty group was founded in 1965, and the organisation was incorporated in 1966. Since being founded, the organisation has worked to free prisoners of conscience, fight human rights violations around the world, and promote human rights in New Zealand by lobbying and education. It describes itself as working for full human rights for everyone.
AINZ acts primarily with a focus on rights within the Asia-Pacific region, and is secretariat for the Association of Commonwealth Amnesty International Sections. It is a consulting member of the Council for International Development and part of the Human Rights Network of Aotearoa New Zealand.
AINZs Chief Executive Officer is Patrick Holmes and the chairperson is Dr Stefanie Rixecker.
The organisation is currently active in campaigns to stop violence against women as part of an international campaign to see full human rights for everyone. The campaign calls on governments to take a stronger stand for women in cases of domestic and sexual violence.
Despite a narrow vote in favour, the AINZ governing council decided not to support a controversial right to abortion proposed by their parent organisation, Amnesty International. Ced Simpson, Executive Director of AINZ stated that "It is not the practice of AINZ to adopt policy on very internally-contentious issues on the basis of a narrow 'vote'" and pointed to strong support among members for the Convention on the Rights of the Child which asserts the right of care "...before as well as after birth".
Amnesty International strongly supports the creation of a United Nations treaty to control small arms. AINZ gathered over 12,000 faces in a photo-petition it handed in to the New Zealand Government. Minister for Disarmament Phil Goff declared New Zealand's strong support for such a treaty after receiving the petition.
New Zealand is the first nation in negotiations for a free trade agreement with China. As a result of this, and New Zealand's proximity to the nation, AINZ is trying to highlight human rights in the People's Repbulic of China. The organisation is particularly concerned about freedom of speech issues, and censorship of the internet by the government and companies such as Google and Yahoo
Among the priority campaigns for the organisation is the case of Islamic Salvation Front member Ahmed Zaoui, who is seeking asylum in New Zealand. Amnesty International does not take a position on whether Ahmed Zaoui is guilty of the charges laid against him, but argues that he has not received fair criminal trials in Algeria, Belgium, or France, and that Switzerland's rejection of his refugee claim and subsequent deportation to Burkina Faso was improper.
The Darfur conflict in Sudan is one of Amnesty International's top priorities, as a result of the large scale human rights abuses occurring. AINZ has called for the introduction of a United Nations peacekeeping force to prevent conflict and stop further unnecessary suffering.
Amnesty International also supports the implementation of the New Zealand Government's Action Plan for Human Rights.