What are urgent actions?
“Urgent Actions” are a highly effective method to safeguard the lives of individuals facing immediate peril. They represent the swiftest possible form of intervention. Whenever Amnesty International becomes aware of arbitrary arrests, death threats, disappearances, torture, or impending executions, the organization initiates an Urgent Action.
Nothing frightens governments more than the exposure of their human rights abuses to the public eye.
Within a matter of hours, a global network comprising nearly 80,000 individuals across 85 countries (including 10,000 in Germany) springs into action. These dedicated activists send appeals through various channels such as fax, email, or traditional airmail to the authorities in countries where human rights violations occur. The recipients are inundated with thousands of appeal letters originating from all corners of the globe. It is this swift and formidable protest that consistently serves as a shield for the preservation of human lives.
Countless individuals, spanning from China to Chile and from Syria to Zimbabwe, have had the potential to be saved since the inception of the first Urgent Action in 1973. In 2007 alone, Amnesty International initiated 350 new Urgent Actions, with approximately 35 percent of them yielding positive outcomes. These outcomes encompassed various achievements such as releases from custody, improved detention conditions, the abolition of the death penalty, or the prosecution of individuals responsible for human rights violations.