Executions in 2013: min. 778 plus 'thousands' in China

How to write your own petitions

To write petitions is one of the most simple means to work actively against the violations of human rights. In order to write petitions you do not need to be a member of a human rights activists group and you can contribute this way to organise public pressure against human rights violations. You will find out here how you best can do this and what you have to consider when doing it.  

What can I do to fight against the death penalty?  

After you have learned on our website or at other sources about the cruel details concerning the way the death penalty is being practised you may ask yourself: Can I, as a single person, do something against this? You may not want to became a member of a human rights organisation right away, or seek a personal contact to an inmate. But still would like to do something against this human rights violations.

Then, the writing of petitions may be the right activity for you. On our petitions site we introduce a few cases to you where cooperation is asked for. Also amnesty international informs continuously about cases where persons are threatened by the death penalty and other human rights violations in their urgent actions.

At urgent actions you will find detailed background information for each single case, a recommendation about what should be included in the petition and the addresses of the recipients. It is also possible join the Urgent Action Network.

Will this be effective?

Governments generally are interested in their reputation in the public worldwide. They do not like to be referred to as the violators of human rights. If there is enough publice pressure, governments will have to account to the objections. Everyone can contribute, so that public pressure is being increased.  

This is what should be included in your petitions:

  1. Name, address and signature
  2. Introduction of the inmate and his situation, pre-history and  kind of human rights violation.
  3. Argumentation under reference to Common Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 or other human rights agreements. You will find a reference to the most important instruments of human rights right here.
  4. Possibly expressing sympathy with the victims of the crime of which the inmate is accused  and their families. 
  5. Express your personal concern.
  6. Intent of letter (commutation of the death penalty, new trial, etc.)

Please note:

Always write politely and correct.

It is understandable that the cruel facts of human rights violations often cause severe human emotions. But please remember that governments do not react to emotional, accusing or judgemental letters. There is a much bigger chance that your appeal will be read if you remain polite, non-emotional and correct. This will help the person you are referring to much more.    

Please follow the instructions given in the action guide. For protection of the respective victim of human rights violations and the effectiveness of your letter it is absolutely necessary that you follow the instructions given in the action guide.

Please write only to the addresses that were given in this action guide. Judging of governments and - political systems does not help the victim. This is not about attacking governments or political systems or to judge them. The letters therefore should not contain any attacks, or the system, but rather point out human rights violations. Mostly you can assume that the authorities that are addressed have not been informed at all or not efficiently about the case in reference, but may be willing to apply measures against this human rights violations. Therefore please don't make any direct accusations to the recipient. This could have exactly the contrary effect that you intended with your letter.  

The political and ideological neutrality of your letter will increase the credibility of your request. Please never use any politicall slogans! Never give the impression to write to a government out of ideological or political opposition. It is much more effective if you explain that your motives are purely the upkeep of basic human rights standards. In case you have a special interest that connects you with the respective country, you could mention this in your letter. This will increase the individual value of your letter. This could be that you have visited the country or studied its history or language, or you could have connections concerning your job, etc.

With each action, precisely refer to the individual case. This shows the recipient that you are informed and it will be hard to simply ignore the appeals.

If there have been positive developments in that country you should acknowledge and welcome them (e.g. releases, announcement about an official investigation regarding accusations about torture etc. 

Therefore it is recommended to follow the instructions given in the action guide, in order to stay well informed.
(Source: Amnesty International)

Which language to write in:

There are different opinions about this: Letters which are not written in the official language of that country will often be translated and this way will be written more often.  On the other hand letters written in the official language of that country will make handling easier and faster. Amnesty International recommends: Better individual and well articulated letters in German than copied standard letters in a language that you do not speak or don't understand very well.

Example for a Petition to a Governor

Governor of Texas
The Honorable Rick Perry
State Capitol
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711USA
Fax: 001-512-463-1849

Dear Governor:

I urgently appeal to you to grant clemency to (Name of the condemned, his inmate-ID-number) who is scheduled to be executed on (Date).

(Relevant facts concerning the particular case could also be listed at this place, which could support the clemency request further. Like proof which shows the innocense, mental retardation of the condemned, minor age, insuffienent defense attorney, a DNA test which was denied, proof that was withheld and which could be helpful for exoneration, contraditions in statements of witnesses or similar) .

I wish to express my sympathy for the victims of violent crime and their families.

However, I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases. It has been shown not to deter crime and brutalizes society by legitimizing violence. The death penalty is unevenly implied and it is irrevocable. Moreover, capital punishment is inconsistent with a professed concern for human rights, the right to life, the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and the dignity of human life.

Therefore, I appeal to you to grant clemency to (name of the condemned) and commute his sentence of death.

Sincerely,      

Penfriends

Do you want to become personally engaged and bring a bit of light back into the life of a person on death row?

Do you want to make a difference for a person who has to live under inhumane conditions?

Have a look at our Pen Pal sites….