20th November 2013 Minutes

Chair: David Huband

Chair welcomed all to the meeting, especially the members of 38 Degrees who had come to hear Professor David Read speak on the so-called Anti-Lobbying Bill.

Minutes of October’s Open Meeting agreed.

Apologies: Joanna Kinnaird, David Ford, Carl Grint

Campaigns

  • Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan
    David Huband circulated a letter addressed to the President of Turkmenistan calling again for an investigation into the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova.
    Another letter, addressed to the President of Uzbekistan, was circulated calling for the release from prison of three human rights activists
  • Urgent Action
    Sue Mackey described a constitutional ruling in the Dominican Republic which would have the effect of removing Dominican nationality from some citizens retrospectively. A letter was circulated, addressed to the President and copied to the Ambassador, urging the authorities to suspend the ruling’s implementation until the IACHR visits the country and makes its recommendations, based on the Dominican Republic’s international Human Rights obligations
  • Monthly Action
    Roz Cadwallader spoke about an EU directive which obliges companies to be more transparent and to report on their impact on human rights and environmental issues. Amnesty supports this but wants to lobby MEPs asking them to support amendments which will strengthen the legislation. Letters to two MEPs were circulated and signed and will be sent as emails.
  • Shaker Aamer
    David Huband has drafted a letter to Paul Lewis, who has been appointed by Mr Obama to close Guantanamo. The letter highlights the case of Shaker Aamer, pointing out that he has been cleared for release and that the government is committed to securing his release to the UK.Jim Massey read out a letter from the Minister of State responsible for counter-terrorism issues (forwarded by Simon Wright) in which he stated that “all parts of the British Government are working together to secure the release and return of Mr Aamer to the UK.”Sue Mills said that Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ was coming from Guantanamo Bay tonight. (Check BBC i-player.)

Events

  • Sue Mills reported that Amnesty Christmas card sales at the Charity Christmas Card Shop on White Lion Street have been very good. Cards were for sale at the end of the meeting.
  • Write for Rights
    David Yates asked for wider publicity for this year’s Write for Rights. A4 and A3 posters were distributed. The venue is the Appleyard Café on Exchange Street, between 11am and 3pm on Sunday 15th December.

Speaker

We were very pleased to welcome Professor David Reid of UEA to speak about “The costs of campaigning” and to answer questions about the “Anti-lobbying” Bill. He emphasised the lack of evidence for the necessity of this piece of legislation and pointed out that it is being rushed through Parliament – it was never produced in draft form and was tabled just before the summer recess. Professor Read referred to the restrictions on political advertising and the provisions on third party spending. He also spoke about constraining the use of free space – whereby existing legislation on ‘Injunctions Preventing Nuisance and Annoyance’ would be amended to widen the powers to issue ASBOs if a person is perceived to be engaged in nuisance or annoying behaviour. Such legislation, he pointed out, is a clear threat to the principle of free speech.

Next Meeting

Wednesday 18th December at 7.30pm

Mince pies and Greeting cards campaign

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