History of Amnesty International

In 1961, two young Portuguese men sat in a café and decided to celebrate their freedom by raising a toast. The government was infuriated and sent those two men to jail for seven years. All the way in Britain, a lawyer named Peter Benson heard about his incident and was shocked at the actions being done to these two innocent young men. He quickly brought up a one year campaign called “Appeal for Amnesty 1961” with the help of the local newspaper, ‘The London Observer.’ The purpose of this campaign was to force release of the innocent prisoners who did not belong in jail. They were people who expressed their beliefs in public and were judged wrongly. This campaign succeeded and the two men were released. But that was only one country.

Peter Benson wanted to have fair trial in all countries. This led to the organization Amnesty International on May 28. Today, there are less torture and executions than there were before. In over 150 countries, Amnesty International was adopted and now there are local groups based on the organization. It can be as big as Amnesty International USA or it can be as small as a school chapter. The purpose of this organization is to have each individual feel free and happy without being imprisoned. At this very moment, there is someone being tortured for something that is right to them and Amnesty International will be there to help them.

Shortened Timeline

1961: Peter Benenson launched a worldwide campaign called “Appeal for Amnesty 1961” and published the article, “The Forgotten Prisoners” in The Observer newpaper in Britain.

1963: The International Secretariat, headquarters, was established in London

1964: Peter Benenson was announced president of the organization. He was the best person to be president, for he took all of his hard work and constructed this organization.

1972: First worldwide campaign for the abolition of toruture.

1975: By this time, there were 1592 groups in 22 countries and more than 70,000 members in 65 countries

1976: International Bill of Rights was made. It included the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

1977: Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. They “[have contributed to securing the ground for freedom, for justice, and thereby also for peace in the world”

1984: Second Campaign Against Torture

1994: Major international campaigns on women’s rights, disappearances, and political killings were launched.

2000: Third Campaign against Torture

2007: Sudan’s government to protect civilians in Darfur global petition is launched.

About Amnesty International.