What Amnesty International Really Stands For

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Editor:

This is in response to a letter written by Carol A. Suhr (Aug. 6) regarding the newly-formed Payson chapter of Amnesty International. It is unfortunate that the original letter lacks research on both Amnesty International and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning, grassroots, human rights organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide.

Over a 50-year history, AI has had countless successes for human rights. Our work has helped secure the release of over 44,000 prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Just two weeks ago, the Tribal Law and Order Act, which protects Native American women from rape and other forms of violence, was signed into law following AI research, legislative advocacy, and activism.

Amnesty International has never advocated unrestricted abortion, and we do, in fact, partner with the Catholic Church on many bodies of our work.

CEDAW is one of nine core international human rights instruments, many of which the U.S. has already ratified.

In nations that have ratified the treaty, CEDAW has proved an invaluable tool for women to effectively oppose the effects of discrimination, which include violence, poverty, and lack of legal protections. CEDAW has fostered development of domestic violence laws in Turkey and South Africa, and anti-trafficking laws in Ukraine and Moldova. CEDAW does not promote the use of abortion; many countries in which abortion is illegal, such as Ireland, Burkina Faso and Rwanda, have ratified CEDAW.

Only seven nations worldwide have not ratified CEDAW, including the United States, Iran and Sudan. CEDAW ratification would commit the United States to undertake measures to end discrimination against women in all forms. In the United States, equally-qualified women are paid only $0.77 for each $1.00 men are paid for the same job. One in three American women will experience physical or sexual abuse from a domestic partner.

The ratification of CEDAW will amplify and protect the human rights of all women without compromising the sovereignty of the United States or changing the Constitution. CEDAW is compatible with the principles of the U.S. Constitution and ratification would not grant enforcement authority to the United Nations.

The allegations from Ms. Suhr are regrettably misinformed and inaccurate. The Payson chapter of Amnesty International is part of a global movement of people committed to preventing and ending abuses of human rights around the world. We are a group of ordinary people — local teachers and social workers, students and retirees — working for basic human rights such as the right to be free from violence and the rights of children. Our upcoming actions include working for the release of the three American hikers held without charge in Iran as well as partnering with Payson’s Time Out Shelter during Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October.

Sara Schmidt, Kezia Zuber

and Penny Navis-Schmidt

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