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10 May 2021 Meeting Highlights

Sutton Amnesty Group’s 2021 AGM

As they had indicated prior to the meeting, Paul Barnard and Tessa Cornell stepped down as Chair and Secretary respectively. The Group thanked them for the enormous contribution they had made, recalling how they had worked with others to ensure the survival of the Group at a difficult time.

Graham Bisset and John Branford indicated their willingness to stand as Chair and Secretary respectively, and were duly appointed. Colum McAndrew remains Treasurer for the group.

Paul shared videos reinforcing the achievements of Amnesty International over the last year and photographs documenting Sutton Amnesty Group’s activities over previous years. It was agreed that longer-standing members would liaise to complete a ‘History of Sutton Group’ document, which could then be used to help as a recruitment tool.

Graham reported that voting by the group at the previous meeting, supplemented by those unable to attend, had been in favour of Dr Mohammed al-Roken from the United Arab Emirates, and that AIUK had subsequently allocated him as our Prisoner of Conscience (though other groups will also be working on his case).

Dr Mohammed al-Roken’s background:

  • a PhD from Warwick in Constitutional Law
  • a human rights lawyer and professor of constitutional law
  • a member of the International Bar Association
  • Amnesty’s main contact in the UAE prior to his arrest
  • author of several books on human rights, counter-terrorism laws and freedom of expression
  • has been subject to harassment for several years for his human rights work

Amnesty International believes that he has been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and association, including his right to peacefully form and join in association with others, and for his work as a defence lawyer representing his clients and his advocacy efforts on behalf of human rights.

He was arrested on 17 July 2012 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment on 2 July 2013 in a trial with 93 others. AI are concerned that his trial was unfair and that he is being held incommunicado and may have been subject to torture.

The AI campaign’s primary objectives in respect of Dr al-Roken are his immediate and unconditional release, that he is allowed freedom of expression and association without harassment or intimidation, and that his licence to practice law is restored.  Secondary (intermediate) objectives are regular access to his lawyer and family, access to health care and protection from torture and other ill-treatment. In particular that he is held in accordance with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.


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