Letter: The role of Amnesty

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Sir: When I was an active supporter of Amnesty, I used to say that we stood for free speech and fair trials and against torture and capital punishment. Remembering that, I keep having to remind myself that Baroness Thatcher is perfectly entitled not to be punished for her views on General Pinochet. It would also follow that, in the controvesry surrounding Lord Hoffmann, Amnesty should support the Law Lords' decision to have a second hearing. Even General Pinochet deserves a fair trial, whatever he might have done.

But I don't remember ever thinking it was Amnesty's role to prosecute human rights offenders itself. Rather than the Law Lords rethinking their involvement in Amnesty, perhaps it is Amnesty that needs to rethink its role. To take sides in any dispute just detracts from Amnesty's ability to be an impartial monitor of basic human rights across the world. We need that far more than we need another prosecution service.