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There has been widespread condemnation of three bomb attacks
in India's main commercial city, Mumbai. At least 21 people were
killed and many more injured. One exploded in the heart of the city
and two others in the south, all during rush hours. Indian officials
say it appeared to be a co- ordinated terrorist attack.
News Corporation has withdrawn its controversial bid for a full
takeover of BSkyB Youth stop-off -- BSkyB. The company said it was too
difficult to progress with the bid in the current climate.
The Egyptian government says more than 600 senior police officers
have been removed from their jobs. Their dismissal has been a key
demand of protesters, who criticised officers of the killing
-- for the killing of hundreds of protesters during their Hutu
uprising against Holzinger Barak. - - during February's uprising
against Hosni Mubarak. This year, Amnesty International
passes a milestone. 50 years of campaigning against prisoners of
conscious. This 50th birthday is marked less by collective
satisfaction than soul-searching. The group's strategy has come under
Welcome to HARDtalk. 50 years - congratulations on that. Would you
except Amnesty International is now a campaigning juggernaut that has
moved an awful long way from the founding ideas of 1961?
Not in its values and its basic premise because that has not
changed. Currently, Amnesty International is about ordinary
people coming together to do extraordinary things and when we
started, it was about political prisoners. Then we realised many of
the theme -- many of them were being tortured. Dictators are
getting much smarter so they started making people disappear.
Then you have to deal with the dictators themselves, international
justice. I would say Amnesty has evolved over 50 years, but always
adapting to changing circumstances. As you described it, always working
towards the idea of political freedom and baffling political
oppression, it will look at what Amnesty International is involved
in today it is a sort of capsule against fighting and -- fighting
against a grab-bag of different abuses.
I recently came back from North Africa. When you look at what is
happening on the streets of many cities, especially in North Africa,
you can see the classic problem of political freedom, and people's
writes for food and water, that is something we can talk about sitting
in the studio. There was a Tunisian who set himself on fire, which
triggered the Tunisian Revolution, which triggered the rest of the
Arab world's revolution. No-one campaigning organisation can
represent all of those different issues. Wars and the beauty of
Amnesty in early days was that the focus was clear, thein all about
representing those people who were locked up because of their thoughts
and speech. We a fighting for the rights of
people whose rights are violated. - we are fighting. You cannot
separate economic rights from political rights. It is not for us
to say, "We are only doing this thing." Where is the clarity of
Amnesty getting involved in the abortion debate?
Saying it will champion the rights of women who have been raped or
forcibly coerced into sex and then have become pregnant. I do not see
how that fits with the original ideas.
Half of the populations in the countries we working are women. The
women we are working with, when we started looking beyond prison,
there was a bit strong proportion of the population saying that
women's rights were very Central. We do not take a generic position
on the right to life all right to health. It is a human rights
framework. My knee devoutly religious people,
not least Catholics, like your founder, took the view that life
began at conception. By outlining and championing the rights of women
to have an abortion if they have been forcibly, basically, made to
have sex, are you not pursuing the logic that right to life does not
start at conception. We all know amnesty is fully committed to
respect for life and against the death penalty.
Him Indonesia, Amnesty has been working for many years against
oppression and political dictatorship. Today, if you take
the number of women dying because of bad health practices, it is
20,000 women who died. Indonesia traditionally has one million
abortions taking place. Most of them are in the shadow because no-
one wants to legalise abortion. You can say that it does not matter
that 20,000 women are dying because that is not your concern. What
we're doing in the case of Indonesia is explaining to the
people of Indonesia and talking to the Governor of Indonesia about how
there is a direct relationship between rising abortion and the
whole maternal mortality rate. It is very central. I think it is
difficult to separate these things. We made British bishop, Michael
Evans, after you adopted the stance, quit your organisation, saying,
"Amnesty seems to have forgotten the paramount human right, the
right to life," You do not focus on that?
We are focused on making sure women do not have unsafe pregnancies. We
need to make sure women have access to information, that they feel
empowered to use contraception, whether they are rich or poor,
single or married. That is our focused. We're not focused on what
people do when they get married and get pregnant.
Let's bring it back to politics and repression and the fight for
freedom. You recently back from Cairo, in the midst of the Arab
spring. Isn't the message of the Arabs bring in some ways that there
is now less need for outside analysis and the intervention from
groups such as yours because, in a very real sense, people are doing
it for themselves. We are not outside. We may be
sitting in a studio in the UK, but we have an organisation of 3
million members across the globe. I was in so where's a few days ago
and local people came to me and talk about their local Amnesty
Group. We are spread across 100 countries with 3 million local
members. What is a snake that you're dishing in Egypt? In the
midst of all this crisis, the tarry a Square killings, Amnesty has been
documented -- documenting all the human rights violations. I was
mentioning to the Minister of the interior that we have records of
all the violations that had been committed under Holzinger Barak
over the last 30 years. -- under Hosni Mubarak.
People now have mobile phones, they are on social networks, they're
sending each other pictures and video of what is happening in real
time. You then many months later sending researchers and right along
reports about this and that. You were in danger of being overtaken
by events -- you are. I got a message from Aung San Suji.
She said she wanted to express her gratitude to Amnesty. Her message
was interesting, saying that she hoped that in the next 50 years we
would not need and Mr International. I would share that hope. Let me
assure you that at this point back in time, with the Sudans, the
Chinas, everywhere I travel, people respect what we say.
You said a few weeks ago that the Arabs bring marks a watershed where
activists used new technology to speak truth to power. Are you over
estimating what has changed in the last 12 months?
No. What we have been saying in relation to the Middle East and not
Africa in general, the Middle East is a good example, is that the
dictator has gone but the systems of dictatorship have not gone. That
will take a long time to change, meaning we need truth, justice and
reparations. I was meeting with mothers of the first two martyrs
who gave their lives and there are security officials who conducted
killings and violations. Unless there is truth, justice and
compensation, we need -- we have a long way to go.
The people have lost loved ones, were winded themselves or
imprisoned. Where is the justice for any of these people? -- were
wounded. That is exactly what our same to
the general of the armed forces. By wonder whether you said you were
worried about the fact that they were rushing headlong into
parliamentary elections in September, when the basic
groundwork for democracy and civil society were not in place.
The first thing I talked about were the mid- Barak laws. They are still
in place, the emergency laws. -- been. The media is much more free.
They have started trials against the Interior Minister and Holzinger
Barak himself -- Hosni Mubarak. Up one of the facets we see more in
Syria is that the government also make Ten News the new technology.
They can use mobile and satellite technology to track protesters,
undertake surveillance in New Inn sophisticated ways. Are you worried
about that? We are very worried. We're talking
to the companies, technology companies, about this question.
We're developing our own strategies for the future on how we, on the
one hand, digital can be a massive enabling technology to organise
anonymously, but it is true companies Kent misuse it and there
are smart governments already doing that. -- can misuse it. In a sense,
this is a new area for Amnesty International and the human rights
community. A I talked about the warp speed at
which information can now flow, not least information about allegations
of human rights abuse. That is sometimes very dangerous. Let's
turn to Libya. Not long ago we had stories coming of mass rapes,
systematic rapes by Gaddafi's forces, coming through the new
media. I wonder if Amnesty International, after looking at
those reports, now believe most of them not to be true?
Research and interviewing people is some of the most important work
that Amnesty conducts. We have not had any direct evidence of rape
being used as a weapon of war. Rape been used as a weapon of war is a
serious human rights violation. If the UN and ICC have evidence, we
need to see that. We're not saying it didn't happen. We're just saying
we do not have direct evidence of that.
We now get to a very sensitive line that Amnesty has had to tread for
many years now. The war in Iraq, Afghanistan and maybe in Libya as
well. You have people on both sides of the conflict who want to
marshall facts. In Libya, one of the Western... The arguments used
by Western intervention powers was that had they not intervened there
would have been "A massacre" of tens of thousands of innocent
civilians in Benghazi. Does Amnesty International believe that to be
true? It is a kind of counterfactual
question. I can ask you if you believe it to
be credible. A Amnesty International is not an
organisation that pronounces its views with force. We work within
the human-rights framework. The important issue now is that all
parties have to observe the rules of war and the rules of conflict
and international humanitarian law and that is not happening. All
parties are violating that as we speak. That is why we have an
International Criminal Court. That is one of the pins Amnesty
International campaigned for four years. We're happy that arrest
warrants have come out now and we need to allow for a full
investigation to take place. Just sticking with the notion of
Amnesty's integrity and the enormous pressures it faces, I
talked about the enormity -- enormous conflicts we have been
through. Let's now talk about the war on terror, as it was
characterised by George W. Bush. Do you think it fits with Amnesty's
values to associate with, for example, former Guantanamo
prisoners, in your campaign on the issue of detainees in Wantirna Road.
-- in Guantanamo. In our view, in many cases, the
West has it wrong. We think, in Guantanamo Bay itself, 2.5 years
after President Obama said he would close Guantanamo Bay, we still have
200 detainees in there. We know this is not in line with most
international human rights standards and they are committed to
taking several of them to civil trial and they have now reversed
In that campaign you have run, you have worked closely with other
organisations. You used to work with the Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
Do you regret that association? There was a whole debate about that.
Did you get it right or wrong? was before my time. It was
independently done by two well respected people. They said there
could have been some minor changes we could have made. There was no
disagreement. We made the right choices. Was it the right choice to
work with a self acknowledged jihadi fighter in Bosnia who had
been to training camps in Afghanistan, who continues to talk
about political campaign and conflict in America. Was it right
to have him as an associate? work with a wide range of partners.
It was just not on that issue alone. His group was described as a
leading human rights group which says more of them just working with
you on this specific issue. issue was about whether the
comments he had made, which were kind of derogatory towards women's
rights. Amnesty International, for us, women's rights is paramount.
What were you doing associating with him? When you have people in
prisons, we do not interview them for their views. This was after he
left prison. The reason this is important is because people inside
the organisation and outside it are worried about the degree to which
Amnesty is prepared to work with people who do not share the
universal values that Amnesty claims it represents. People are
worried that Amnesty International has tended to align themselves with
extremists. The nice thing is that we get criticised from all sides.
It is a reminder that we have to remain objective. In the Middle
East, North Africa, many people came up to say how we are so anti-
Islamist. I think Amnesty, without question, maintains its objectivity
through all the processes that we carry out. That is why we are so
valued. Before you toore you too another official said that Amnesty
has become rather famous - thinking about the role of jihad in self-
defence. Aren't such views not right? He said no. Do you believe
notions of jihad are antithetical to human rights? We were the first
to criticise the Taliban for killing innocent civilians at the
Intercontinental Hotel. Any kind of killing of civilians, using any
kind of jihad or whatever is unacceptable. But he believes jihad
is not antithetical to human rights? I am not going to go there.
I am saying if there is any evidence that civilians have been
killed, it is not acceptable. you cut your ties to caged
prisoners? He was associated with an alleged Al-Qaeda mastermind.
Have you cut or your ties with them? We have a specific campaign
with them on Guantanamo Bay. I worked with Caged Prisoners. What
about Israel? In the last few years, Amnesty spent too much time on
Israel and Palestine and not at what was actually going on in the
Arab world? If you look at Tunisia, Egypt, these were major investments
On Israel, Palestine, if you are talking about how we make sure of
objectivity and balance, we work with that criticism. After the 2008
and 2009 conflicts, we said their research conducted into human
rights was inadequate. The head of Amnesty International's Finland
branch described Israel as a scum state. Have you removed him?
stand for freedom of expression. Someone might say something that is
not representative. So he still speaks as the chief Amnesty person
in Finland? We have been cleared that is not Amnesty International's
view. We have dealt with that. I do not know the specifics of the
circumstances but that is not Amnesty International's view.
wrote it in a blog and it caused a great deal of upset in Israel. Some
believe there is an in-built bias. It is not about what one staff in
Amnesty said. The important thing is that the blockade is not
acceptable. People are suffering. We have done some very detailed
studies on water sanitation so that has been lifted. We have one of the
settlements there that has been destroyed 20 times. They are all
the things that we need to stop. just want to talk about the future.
You are the boss. Does it worry you that the most powerful emerging
nations in the world, and I am thinking of China, maybe the BRIC
countries, Russia, India, Brazil as well. These countries do not all
sign on to your views of what human rights really are. You cannot lump
all these countries together. It is a very big mix. They need to do a
lot more. I was in Brazil not so long ago and there was some big
challenges there. We were very worried that they are still
evicting a lot of people. And then you think about China. What did the
Chinese premier say in London the other day? He said stop lecturing
us. Stop lecturing us about human rights. Treat us as equals, don't
engage in finger-pointing and respect others on the basis of
equality. That may be a message that he is also delivering to you
as well. China had the Nobel Peace Prize going to a Chinese citizen
not so long ago. 10 years ago they would not worry about it but now
they are worrying about their international image. They are
concerned about their image more and more. They have to be held to
international standards. As we see Beijing rise and Delhi as well, the
power countries in the world, what you are doing may be even more
difficult to deliver. Brazilians and the Indians and the
Africans need to become part of the movement and raise their voices as
well. They need to have pressure coming from their own countries. I
think the idea that human rights is a Western concept has been exploded
recently. We have to leave it there. The weekend is approaching and the
weather looks like turning pretty nasty by Friday with wind and rain
expected. Before that happens, a reasonable weather today with
sunshine prevailing. Many places will be dry and the one exception
is the east of England with an active weather system bringing a
wet start to the day. Further west, a cool start but a lovely day with
sunshine. Things will warm up quite nicely. I've been to the mid-teens
by mid-morning. A touch of frost in the northern Highlands and things
warming up after that. No real problems weather-wise in the
Midlands. It is the east of England that will have the cloud and wet
weather. Fringing in two parts of Kent, and further west a lot of
sunshine. As we go through the day not much changing - wet weather in
the east of England, blustery wind. Further west - dry, bright and of
lighter wind. Temperatures in the low 20s but chilly. The Open, a lot
of cloud and blustery wind back. Challenging conditions and coverage
will be all over the BBC. Toward the evening, the wind will move
east. Things will dry out. A largely dry start to Friday. Much
warmer for parts of East Anglia, the south-east. Weather fronts are
With motor insurance premiums up nearly 40 percent this year Panorama investigates the car insurance industry from top to bottom.
We go undercover to infiltrate a criminal gang faking accidents for fraudulent insurance claims and we look at who's benefitting from some of those text claim messages we're all getting. Declan Lawn investigates what's gone wrong with the industry and discovers how we're all paying for it.