26th February 2013 Minutes
Chair: David Huband
Chair welcomed all to the meeting
Minutes of last meeting agreed
- Monthly Action- Philippines Torture Case:
Darius Evangelista has been missing since his arrest by police in Manila on suspicion of theft in March 2010. Fellow detainees reported that he had been badly injured and there is video evidence of severe torture. Although policemen involved in his torture have been dismissed, there have been no prosecutions. Joanna circulated a letter to be sent to the Chief of the Philippine police urging that the police officers involved should be held accountable for their actions.
- Shaker Aamer:
Jim reported that 14th February marked the 12th anniversary of Shaker Aamer’s imprisonment in Guantanamo. He remains on hunger strike and is in very poor health.
On 11th February a court in Washington DC agreed that hunger strikers can challenge their treatment in a Federal, but not in a District Court.
David H has been in contact with Zake Johnson – a member of Amnesty in the US – who claimed that it was UK politicians who are holding up the case and nothing to do with Congress.
A letter to President Obama was signed and the group is urged to write again to our MPs, asking them to raise a question in the House of Commons.
David F reported that the case of Ogulsapar Muradova in Turkmenistan is being reviewed by the IS, but meanwhile remains open. Another letter is being sent to the President.
Another letter concerning the Imprisonment of Salidzhon Abdurackhmanov in Uzbekistan is being sent, this time to the Director of Execution of Sentences and copied to the Ambassador.
- Afghanistan Women’s Rights
On 4th February The Guardian reported that a significant change had been made to Afghanistan’s Criminal Prosecution Code which would ban the relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Since most violence against women is within the family, this would, in effect, silence both the victim and witnesses.
However, after lobbying both from within and outside of Afghanistan, President Karzai has blocked the change saying that the clause needs to be amended.
While this is not the subject of an official AI action, Sue Mills suggested that, if they had not already done so , members might refer to the Action on p.30 of the recent magazine and write to their MPs urging the government to improve protection for Women Human Rights Activists in Afghanistan.
- North Korea
David H referred members to the UN report on conditions in North Korea.
- Quiz and Dips
This was a huge success and raised £1,089 profit. Very many thanks to all who made it possible.
- Regional Conference
This is to be held on Saturday March 8th at Ely Methodist Church Hall, Chapel Street, CB6 1AD at 11.30. The focus will be: Migration and Human Rights (further details on line).
- Other regional events of interest
- Thursday 6th March: The Saffron Walden Group AGM with Zimbabwean human rights defender Jestina Mukoko as speaker.
- Tuesday 11th March: The Bury St. Edmunds Group host a talk by writer Liz Fisher Franks and human rights lawyer Tony Fisher.
- Thursday 13th March: The Cambridge City Group welcome Ethan Gutmann, an award winning China analyst and human rights investigator.
- Annual Conference
This year’s National AGM is to be held in Edinburgh on April 12th. All info. on line.
- AIUK in Russia
Kate Allan presented a petition about the rights of LGBT people in Russia.
- IS policy on the de-criminalisation of sex workers
AIUK has no policy on this and wants to know what members think at the AGM. David H proposed that the issue should be discussed in committee- open to all members, but Bill Albert spoke of the need to consult with sex workers about the issue. David F thought it was not a topic for the committee but for an open meeting. Should the issue be raised at the Regional AGM and then brought to the Group AGM? Joanna felt there hadn’t been enough time or background information for this. It was agreed that the subject would be on the agenda of the Group AGM.
- The membership of the ‘Global Council’
This is a new body, established by Amnesty, of ‘high net worth’ individuals committed to raise/donate money for Amnesty. However, there are concerns about its membership eg.one of the members is Lord Levy who donates money to support Israeli Settlements in Palestine. The York Group has tabled a critical motion at the Edinburgh AGM.
We were very pleased to welcome Sue Mackey who spoke about Disability and International Development. She explained how the UN Convention for the protection and promotion of the rights of people with disabilities had transformed treatment and provision and used photographs to illustrate the ways in which overseas development projects were now focused on improving the lives of people with disabilities as a human right. Her wide experience and deep understanding made this a fascinating talk which was followed by an interesting question and answer session.
Wednesday 19th March at 7.30pm