Amnesty backed the banned 'executions' video

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The Independent Online
THE human-rights organisation Amnesty International, which distanced itself last week from the controversial video documentary Executions, was originally closely involved and considered distributing T-shirts and pamphlets linked to it.

The organisation, which has fallen out with the film-makers after deciding not to work with them on the video, which centres on capital punishment, also discussed taking a share of profits.

W H Smith and John Menzies removed Executions from their shelves last week as newspapers and MPs attacked the 18-certificate video as "sensational". W H Smith said the lack of endorsement for it from Amnesty undermined its credibility.

But Amnesty had originally discussed involvement with the film and the distribution of promotional material, according to letters from the organisation seen by the Independent on Sunday. Discussions with the producers broke down when Amnesty asked for full editorial control of the film.

Last January, David Bull, Amnesty's director in London, wrote to David Monaghan, one of the three journalists behind the film, saying that the group was "most interested" in the project, then under the working title State Executions.

He wrote: "We share your objective of public awareness about the shocking phenomenon of executions that continue to take place around the world. . . Insofar as this project is able to educate the public about the suffering and brutality of executions State Education [sic] will be an invaluable aid to our campaigning efforts to rid the world of such killings."

David Herman, Arun Kumar and David Monaghan, who produced and directed the film, said relations with Amnesty became strained when Jeanne Jenner, Amnesty's events and promotions manager, became involved. She wrote on 31 January that it would not be possible to use Amnesty's logo on promotional material for Executions "although I understand from our meeting that you are prepared to allow us full editorial control".

"No journalist gives up editorial control of his work," David Herman said last week.