Write petitions yourself
Do petitions make a difference?
Governments are usually interested in their reputation in the eyes of the world. They don’t want to be seen as human rights abusers.
If there is enough public pressure, governments have to take a stand on the reservations. Everyone can help to generate this public pressure.
In cases that become known worldwide and in which petitions collect a large number of signatures or letter campaigns are supported by numerous writers, there are therefore indeed successes time and again, so that executions are suspended.
But even if many petitions or letter campaigns do not achieve such a high level of attention, they still at least send a signal to the addressee and show, for example, the prisoner concerned that there are people who support him – for example, when he learns how many have campaigned for him with their signature in an online petition.
What your petition should definitely contain:
1. Name, address, signature
2. Presentation of the convict and his situation, history and form of the human rights violation
3. Understanding and sympathy for the victims of the convict
4. Argumentation with reference to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights or other human rights treaties
5. Expression of personal concern
6. Intent of the letter (commutation of the death penalty, new trial, etc.)
You should keep this in mind:
Always write politely and correctly.
Understandably, the gruesome facts about human rights violations often elicit strong emotional reactions. However, please remember that governments do not respond to emotional, accusatory or condemnatory letters. Your appeal has much more chance of being read, and thus your concern for helping the person in question heard, if you write politely, factually, and correctly.
Follow the instructions given in the action guide.
For the protection of the victim of human rights violations in question and the effectiveness of your letter, it is imperative that you follow the guidance given in the Action Guide – for example, if it is an Amnesty International Urgent Action. Please write only to the addresses provided in the Action Instructions.
Do not attack the addressees of your petition.
Condemnations of governments and political systems do not help the victim. The point is not to attack or condemn governments or political systems. Therefore, the letters should not contain attacks on the government or system, but should point out human rights violations.
It is possible that the authorities being written to were previously unaware or insufficiently aware of the case in question, but are willing to take action against human rights violations. Therefore, do not directly reproach the recipient. By doing so, you may have the exact opposite effect of the intention of your letter.
Remain politically neutral in your petition.
The political and ideological neutrality of your letter increases the credibility of your concern. Therefore, please never use political buzzwords! Never give the impression of writing to a government out of ideological or political opposition. It is much more effective to state that your commitment is to uphold basic human rights standards.
Get involved on an individual basis.
If, for example, you have a particular interest in the country in question, you can mention this in the letter. This underlines the individual value of your letter. For example, you may have visited the country or studied its history or language. You may have had to do with it professionally, etc.
Show you are informed.
Be specific about each action. This will help the recipient see that you are informed and make it difficult for them to simply ignore the appeals. If there have been recent positive developments in the country in question, acknowledge and welcome them (e.g. releases, announcement of an official investigation into torture allegations, etc.).
In which language to write
Opinions differ on this. Letters that are not written in the local language are often translated at the recipient’s end and thus read multiple times. On the other hand, letters written in the local language facilitate and speed up processing. Amnesty recommends sending individual, well-worded letters in German rather than copied template letters in a language that you yourself do not speak or speak poorly.