Censorship and free speech
'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to seek, receive and impart information through any media and regardless of frontiers.'
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 19
Why is freedom of expression so important to us?
Fifty years ago, two students in Portugal were jailed for simply raising a glass and toasting freedom. The reaction sparked the launch of what was to become Amnesty International. Read the full story of how and why Amnesty was founded.
Since 1961, the right to freedom of expression has been central to our values. But fifty years on, free speech remains a luxury - not a right - for many people all around the world, in various ways.
We strongly believe that as long as it's not undermining someone else's rights, everyone should be able to say what they want, without fear of persecution.
One of the ways we celebrate freedom of expression is through the Secret Policeman's Ball - our comedy and music event to celebrate free speech and engage more people in our work.
In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, censorship is so strict that you would not even be allowed to look at this page - the Saudi government blocked the Amnesty website after we criticised proposed laws on terrorism that would have clamped down on peaceful protest.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales recently came to our London offices to us about the value of free speech online. Watch what he had to say:
Free speech issues in the news
- Zimbabwe: detained media monitoring activists are 'prisoners of conscience' Three detained activists were arrested solely for their legitimate work advocating for media reforms and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. (Dec 2011)
- Russian authorities must stop mistreatment of protesters More than 1,000 people, including journalists, have reportedly been detained in Russia following demonstrations against the manipulation of votes during Sunday's parliamentary elections. (Dec 2011)
- Syria: arrest of blogger Razan Ghazzawi condemned The arrest of a prominent Syrian-American blogger apparently for her peaceful pro-reform activities is another step backwards for the Syrian regime. (Dec 2011)
- Saudi Arabia: new wave of repression sweeps through kingdom - new report The last nine months has seen a new wave of repression in Saudi Arabia as the authorities have cracked down on protesters and reformists, says a new Amnesty report.
How we stand up for free speech
Individuals at riskLetter writing on behalf of individuals at risk worldwide can have fast and spectacular results.
Protect the Human
Our online action site makes it simple to speak up effectively for human rights.
Peaceful protest is a human right. We'll always speak out against oppressors of free speech, like authorities in Syria.
In Azerbaijan, posting on Facebook can have you jailed, as Jabbar Savalan found out.
Amnesty Media Awards
Our annual media awards celebrate the best in human rights journalism and recognise the breadth and quality of human rights reporting across the media.
By honouring those journalists who seek to uncover the stories of human rights abuses that governments would often prefer to be swept under the carpet, our awards stand up for free speech and a free press.