While we are free to express how we feel and what we believe, others are not so lucky. All around the world, people are persecuted for standing up for their rights and beliefs. Prisoners of conscience experience many forms of persecution. They may lose their jobs and access to public services; they may be barred from participation in social and cultural life; they may be harassed, bullied, intimidated and threatened. Physical violence is common as too is sexual abuse, rape and torture. Many are imprisoned, often thrown into solitary confinement with no or conflicting information about why they are in jail or what will happen next. They may be deprived of food and medicine while imprisoned or be tortured. Many ‘disappear’ with their families never hearing from them again; others are murdered. The ‘lucky ones’ escape, going underground or forced into exile. If they flee to another country, they frequently arrive traumatised, destitute and fearful for the future.
Since our inception in 1962, we’ve provided rapid financial assistance to more than 10,000 prisoners of conscience and their dependents and distributed more than £4m. This funding ensures immediate relief, rehabilitation, resettlement and requalification at the time of greatest need. We evaluate all funding requests rigorously to ensure precious funds are provided to the most deserving cases. This is achieved by exercising expertise built up over many years and by utilising our network of over 50 different distribution channels including human rights organisations, refugee groups, community organisations, universities and solicitors.