What is Amnesty International?

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by British lawyer Peter Benenson. He became angry after reading a report about two Portuguese students who had been imprisoned for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom. In response, Benenson published an article – The Forgotten Prisoners – on the front page of the London Observer newspaper on May 28, 1961. The article cast the light of public attention on the situation of a number of people – including a U.S. civil rights leader, a dissident Hungarian cardinal and an Angolan poet.

Each of these people were in prison simply for peacefully expressing their beliefs. Benenson argued that the treatment of these “prisoners of conscience” was wrong, and he called on concerned members of the public to demand their release. The public response was quick, widespread and enthusiastic. Thousands of people from London to Uruguay, from nurses to children, offered their help and Amnesty International was born.

Canadian Amnesty supporters launched Amnesty International Canada in 1973. Our first president, Dr. John Humphrey, was a leading author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today we have more that 67,000 members and thousands more active supporters in communities, schools and networks across the country. These members work in partnership with some 50 staff and many wonderful volunteers based in our national office in Ottawa and our regional offices in Toronto and Vancouver.

We are building a world in which every person enjoys the rights included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. Towards this end:

  • Amnesty International takes action to stop grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination. We campaign, for example, to free prisoners of conscience, ensure fair trials for political prisoners, protect refugees, abolish the death penalty, end political killings, “disappearances” and torture, and bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations.
  • Amnesty International seeks to expose human rights abuses accurately and quickly. We independently and impartially research and publicize the facts of individual cases and patterns of human rights abuses.
  • Our members, supporters and staff then mobilize persistent public pressure on governments, armed political groups, companies and others to prevent and stop these violations.
  • Amnesty International promotes public awareness and understanding of the full range of human rights, and we work with a global community of organizations to ensure broad support and respect for all human rights.
  • Amnesty International is governed by its members. We are independent of all governments, political persuasions and religious creeds. We are funded by our members and donors, and no funds are sought or accepted from governments.

Amnesty International Fieldworkers

Amnesty International (AI) fieldworkers are experienced Amnesty members trained to inspire, support and teach people inside and outside of Amnesty about important human rights work. They are knowledgeable, committed AI volunteers who act as resources for individuals, groups and networks by sharing experiences and information.

What Fieldworkers Do

  • Information Provider: Fieldworkers have information and tools related to current Amnesty issues and actions.
  • Supporter: Fieldworkers support members in our work for human rights by encouraging new and innovative action for human rights through workshops and community events. Fieldworkers are also involved in supporting members and groups in their community or region.
  • Personal Contact: Fieldworkers bridge the gap between the national branch and individuals or groups.

Contacting a Fieldworker

Individual activists or groups can contact an AI fieldworker by e-mailing amnestywinnipeg@gmail.com.