Iraqi prisoner abuse and smoking top NGO issues

Prisoner abuse and smoking dominated the media’s coverage of NGOs during June.

The Red Cross and Amnesty International continued to focus attention on the treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

While the Red Cross emphasised that it believed such abuses had occurred in Afghanistan, Amnesty called for the four remaining British detainees at Guantanamo Bay to be sent home.

Friends of the Earth took advantage of Shell’s AGM to launch an attack, claiming it has ‘not only been overstating its oil reserves, it has exaggerated its social and environmental performance, too’.

Greenpeace received a similar amount of coverage for its anti-GM stance after activists boarded a UK-bound ship they claimed was carrying GM animal feed, forcing the ship to be delayed.

But it was comments by Health secretary John Reid that the ‘middle classes’ were ‘obsessed’ with the smoking issue that provoked the most united response from NGOs. Cancer Research UK used the opportunity to describe smoking as a ‘global health catastrophe of millions of personal tragedies’.

The British Heart Foundation called for a ban on smoking in public places after a study revealed that passive smoking could be twice as dangerous as previously thought.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) also published evidence that four out of five people supported a ban on smoking in the workplace, charging into the top ten for the first time.

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