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History

In 1961 an article, the forgotten prisoners, appeared in The Observer newspaper of London. It was written by British lawyer, Peter Benenson, and described his disgust at the global trend of imprisoning, torturing or executing people because their political or religious views were unacceptable to their governments.

Benenson was outraged by the story of two Portuguese students who were sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for raising a toast to freedom. This prompted him to write the momentous article that expressed his vision of collective action that defines Amnesty International’s work today.

Amnesty International expanded from a single office to today’s major human rights organisation, holding at its heart political impartiality, independence from governments, and rigorous accuracy of information.

In 2011 Amnesty International celebrated its 50th anniversary with global actions throughout the year focusing on the death penalty, freedom of expression, reproductive rights, international justice and halting corporate abuse.

Today we are introducing a new, global approach to working, with regional hubs for research, campaigns and communications. Read more history