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Join our Urgent Action Network

Our Urgent Action network protects people from torture, helps free men and women who are wrongly – and sometimes secretly – detained, and secures access to medical treatment or legal counsel for prisoners. It even saves lives.

How our Urgent Action Network started

In February 1973, labour rights activist Professor Luis Basilio Rossi was at home with his wife Maria Jose, his daughter and a friend. Without warning, military police wielding machine guns suddenly burst through the door. They seized Rossi and his friend and cut the telephone cables so that Maria Jose was unable to get help.

Maria Jose did not know where her husband had been taken. He had been ‘disappeared’ by the police. Despite being kept under surveillance, Maria Jose managed to get a note out to a neighbour that eventually alerted Amnesty to the Rossis’ situation. 

When Tracy Ulltveit-Moe, Amnesty’s Central America researcher at the time, heard about his case, she knew we needed to act fast. We had been receiving reports of political dissidents being tortured in the first 48 hours of detention and were concerned that Professor Rossi would be subject to the same treatment.

So she decided to try something new. She issued the first ever ‘Urgent Action’, asking people to:

'Act as quickly as possible. Time may be crucial in locating Professor Rossi, or even helping to save his life’
Tracy Ulltveit-Moe

The result was astonishing. When Amnesty supporters wrote letters to the Brazilian authorities Professor Rossi’s torture stopped and he was later released.

Forty years on, it's as important as ever

Urgent Actions remain a vital part of our campaigning for individuals, families or communities at risk.

165,000 people from all over the world are members of the Network, and 13,000 of you here in the UK are ready and waiting for emails from us that will ask you to send a letter, email, or fax to help protect someone.

It’s all based on a very simple idea: when someone is in immediate danger of serious human rights abuse, those responsible receive thousands of letters, faxes and telegrams from all over the world demanding it to stop. This shows the authorities that the world is watching and has the potential to protect that person from further abuse.

The Network takes on over 300 new cases and issues around 300 updates to existing cases every year.

Join our Urgent Action Network

As a member of the network, you will

  • Be sent a monthly mailing with some of the most urgent cases you can help make a difference on,
  • Get updates about how actions like yours have changed the lives of people we’re campaigning for,
  • Hear about other ways you can support Amnesty campaigns by taking action.

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Introducing Urgent Actions
The Urgent Action guide
Urgent Actions - Questions and answers