A ‘paradoxical’ year for Amnesty International Luxembourg

Last year for the first time, Amnesty International Luxembourg (AIL) helped support a man from being deported from Luxembourg. The name of the Senegalese teacher and former AIL employee is Abdou Sané, and he had been held at a refugee centre in April 2015, awaiting deportation.

A petition was launched by AIL, pressuring the Foreign Ministry to allow Sané to stay.

The petition succeeded which meant that Sané, an active community member in Luxembourg, wasn’t deported.

This case in Luxembourg was just one in a total of 43 similar cases around the world which AI supported at a global level in what AIL Director Stan Brabant called a “paradoxical” year during Tuesday’s press conference to present the organisation’s 2015 balance sheet.
‘A bad year for human rights’

The year of contrasts lies in the fact that despite a challenging year, AIL saw a strong growth in mobilisation among the Luxembourg community, especially among youth.

“We faced a very bad year with regards to human rights,” said AIL President David Pereira, citing two main challenges in particular: a decline in democratic values, as well as the recent attacks in Europe (Pereira noted as well the importance of not confusing refugees with extremists).

Nevertheless, there is good news for the local section, which saw a 30 percent increase in the number of signatures it received and double the number of event participants year on year.

What’s more, it gained 187 new members–critical for an organisation which received 38 percent of its revenue last year from regular donations (compared to 25 percent from one-off donations, its second highest revenue source).

Furthermore, in 2015, AIL received more than 3,800 signatures through its SMS system, which has made signing and donating more simple and rapid.
Volunteers are key

It may come as no surprise that AIL was at the heart of the refugee crisis in 2015–and not just in the case for Sané.

AIL launched a petition asking the government to welcome at least 600 Syrian refugees and took a number of other steps, including setting up a helpdesk for refugees and migrants, run completely by volunteers.

It’s these volunteers who also helped collect over 2,800 letters and more than 13,000 signatures in 2015, but AIL also recognises the challenges it has in the future to reach out to more of the population.

According to Pereira, work can still be done: whether it’s reaching out to foreigners and cross-border workers, or focusing on less central regions of the Grand Duchy.