Eastlea school students meet Human Rights Minister Jeremy Browne

Eastlea students outside the Foreign Office

Here’s a guest post from our Education and Student team, who’ve been following the Eastlea School youth group for our new film encouraging more young people to get involved with our work. They went to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Monday:

When the Eastlea School students sat down with the Minister for human rights, Jeremy Browne MP at the World Day Against The Death Penalty event they discovered they had a lot in common. Jeremy revealed “I enjoyed being involved with Amnesty when I was at school, and it’s clear these students also have huge enthusiasm for human rights campaigning.”

The students told Jeremy Browne more about their work in our campaign to end stoning in Iran, and then it was time for their questions.

They asked what the UK government had done to try to prevent the execution of Troy Davis. The Minister said it had been difficult, as the UK can’t force other countries to do things, but they had tried. He confirmed that the last executioner in Europe, Belarus, is a priority and how abolition in Japan, although a country that only executes a small number of people, would send a strong message to the rest of the world. Finally, he pinpointed countries in the Caribbean as key targets to abolish the death penalty next, as they have it on their books but don’t use it.

All too soon the Minister was whisked away to open the main event, where he spoke about how ‘the more subtle leap’ of enforcing existing standards on the death penalty under international law could reduce the number of global executions more than achieving abolition in a country that rarely uses it. Then it was time for Victoria, Jessica and Khadeeja from Eastlea to take to the stage to introduce the I Talk Out Loud film. The international audience of ambassadors and civil servants showed their support with loud applause before panel chair, Louise De Souza, Head of Human Rights and Democracy Department at the FCO, described it as a ‘hard act to follow’.

“The idealism of the young people is inspirational. I admire their desire to turn ideas into practical outcomes,” concluded the Minister.

The Eastlea group left feeling equally inspired. Khadeeja Shahid, student and youth group member, Eastlea Community School said: “When the Minister told us how good our work was it made me feel that what we’ve done is really worth it. I was surprised to find out that it’s not just Amnesty, people in government are trying to solve human rights problems too.” “It is massively encouraging to have a direct conversation with the UK government and find out that the issue we are campaigning on is also firmly on their agenda,” said Nazanin Shirani, teacher and youth group leader at Eastlea School.

Encouraging news too for schools across the country who are campaigning against the death penalty this month – find out how you can join them!

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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