I’ve written several columns criticizing Amnesty International. Last week, Hassan Bility, a Liberian ex-dissident who Amnesty helped free from prison, wrote to contradict me (“Human rights matter in Africa,” Aug. 10). He’s right to appreciate their help. Pressuring regimes over jailed dissidents is an Amnesty hallmark. Hundreds are free because of its noble efforts. But agitation for select political prisoners does not negate Amnesty’s flawed agenda, which actually damages the cause of human rights.
In the early 1990s, I discovered that slavery still exists in Sudan and Mauritania. I also discovered that Amnesty (and Human Rights Watch) had detailed reports on this slave trade yet had launched no substantial campaign to rescue blacks owned by Arab masters.
Slaves are prisoners too. In 1995, I went to Amnesty’s national convention and launched a drive to add slavery to Amnesty’s mandate. A majority was persuaded and a resolution was forwarded to the international office in London – which in turn asked for more time to “study the issue” and then did nothing for more than a decade.
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