Introducing the press gang

I was surprised over the weekend to hear that President Bush had issued an executive order banning the CIA from using ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’ in US detention facilities. Isn’t that kind of treatment banned already? Our colleagues in the US were quick to point out what the order doesn’t mention – techniques such as waterboarding, where victims are half-drowned to extract information.

It’s good to see some strong stories around on refugees and asylum seekers. If you’d asked me a few years ago if we needed more stories in the UK media – when they were portraying them as swan-eating ‘hordes’ – I’d have emphatically said ‘no’. But I was glad to see more coverage of this issue recently, whether it was the scandal of Iraqi staff denied asylum even after their work led to death threats, or the story of women asylum seekers in the UK facing destitution after their claims were rejected.

Counter-demonstrator at Riga Pride 2007. Amnesty delegates went on mission in Riga to support sexual rights activists and assess human rights violations against homosexuals.

Last night I also watched the first hour of C4’s new drama Clapham Junction before switching off. I’m not sure what anyone else thought, but to me it seemed like the poor cousin of This Life, with too many characters that were barely sketched out, all either doing lines of coke or exposing themselves. The message, of course, is an important one – that gay life isn’t all civil partnerships, it’s also still about prejudice and homophobic attacks – as detailed in this week’s New Statesman. At Amnesty we’ve focused particularly on prejudice in Eastern Europe and sent a Europe-wide group of activists to the Pride march in Latvia, which has been targeted by homophobic groups. Some good news today though: Buju Banton has agreed to stop singing homophobic ‘hate’ lyrics.

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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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