1. When writing always be polite. Introduce yourself and explain why
you have decided to support a prisoner. Don't judge them because they have
already been judged far more harshly than any western prison might judge them.
2. Always write your letters on the basis that the prison authorities
will read your letter. You don't want to write anything that will cause
problems for the prisoner. Offer positive support and avoid being
negative. Their lives are filled with daily horrors you could never imagine
if you have not walked in their shoes.
3. Show respect for the country's constitution and judicial
procedures, and to demonstrate an understanding of current difficulties.
This will give more scope to point out ways in which the human rights
situation can be improved.
4. If you wish to write an appeal or sign onto a petition to help the
prisoner, be clear in what you are requesting. You should never make
'demands' on the Government. Remember that everything you do and say can
affect the prisoner. So be cautious.
5. Never use political jargon. Don't give the impression that you are
writing because you are ideologically or politically opposed to the
government in question. It is far more effective to stress the fact that
your concern for human rights is not politically based in any way, but in
keeping with basic principles of international law.
6. If you have any special interest or link with the country, it is a
good idea to mention this in your letter. For instance, you may have
visited it or studied its history.
7. Describe the level of support you are willing to provide the
prisoner and if you might visit them at some time in the future.