To Anthony Mitchell,
Director of the Board and National President Amnesty International Australia
Dear Mr. Mitchell,
We are prostitution and sex trafficking survivors and members of Amnesty Australia writing to express anger at what appears to be a deliberate breach of governance protocols regarding decisions voted on at the 2014 NAGM in Sydney in relation to Amnesty International Australia’s endorsement of the “sex work” policy.
The decision made was to begin the consultation process from scratch after it was agreed that the previous consultation process was flawed and biased. It was also decided that the new consultation would begin including input from survivors of the sex trade and other stakeholders. The new consultation process was never commenced. Instead, both of these decisions were ignored and the same flawed and biased consultation process has been repeated.
Our concerns have been brought to the attention of the international board, the National Director, and the Chairs and Directors Forum countless times and still have not been addressed.
Survivors have tried repeatedly to partner with the board and have consistently been dismissed. The overwhelming evidence in support of the Nordic Model has been summarily dismissed and the groups and individuals chosen for consultation were selected with heavy political bias.
The only attempt at any form of consultation was an online consultation survey that was developed and sent to some Amnesty members. The information it presented was heavily biased and only very selective information was included. The link to the online consultation survey has been disabled for days, meaning the members, including survivors, are not able to participate in the consultation through that forum.
Most concerning is that many members, particularly survivors, have reported not ever been informed about or received the link to the survey. As the survey is the only form of consultation offered, this is of deep concern.
To reiterate, part one of the resolution passed by the NAGM last year was: ‘start the consultation process again, in partnership with survivors of prostitution and people who have been trafficked into the sex industry’. We are very disappointed that the consultation process has not been started again in any meaningful way.
Amnesty Australia has not formed any partnership with survivors of trafficking and prostitution and the board has willfully excluded our perspectives on the issue. Further, Amnesty Australia has not advocated to the international body to work in partnership with us on global consultation.
Numerous attempts have been made by survivor groups to engage with the board and form the partnership that was voted on at the 2014 NAGM and continue to be ignored. Despite a complete lack of any new consultation and complete absence of any partnering with prostitution and trafficking survivors, we understand the board intends to vote in favour of full sex trade decriminalisation on behalf of Amnesty International Australia at the International Council Meeting (ICM) in August.
This would be in direct contravention of the resolution passed by the NAGM in 2014. For this reason, we urge Amnesty International Australia to vote to reject the resolution in its current form at the International Council Meeting.
We are offering again to partner with the board in developing a suitable position to put to the International Council that takes into account the experience, knowledge, expertise and perspectives of prostitution and trafficking survivors.
The Board has an obligation to hold itself to Amnesty International’s democratic governance principals and act on behalf of all members. Acting in opposition to a resolution voted for by the NAGM would be a very serious and concerning breach of this obligation.
Amnesty Australia’s Integrated Strategic Plan (ISP) for the years 2009 – 2016 adopted by the 29th International Council Meeting includes ‘a commitment to promoting ‘active participation of rights holders’. Survivors of prostitution and trafficking and the perspectives of all those with past and present lived experience of the sex industry are clearly rights holders in regard to this decision and any position put forward at the International Council Meeting made without our participation would be a breach of the ISP.
We ask that the resolution passed by your members at last year’s NAGM be honored and that you now work in partnership with us and our movement to develop a proper and comprehensive consultation process before putting a position forward internationally.
Ms Rhiannon Poole
Ms Simone Watson
Ms Kat Pinder
Please see here a list of signatories on an open letter in this link from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women: