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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 February, 2005, 12:38 GMT
Tributes paid to Amnesty founder
Peter Benenson
Mr Benenson was called "the father of human rights"
Human rights campaigners have paid tribute to Amnesty International founder Peter Benenson, who died on Friday at the age of 83.

Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, called him "the father of human rights" who deserved the Nobel peace prize.

"As a result of Amnesty's work, we now have international conventions, enforcement and an International Criminal Court," he said.

A memorial service for Mr Benenson is being planned by Amnesty International.

He was a very kind man, and had an enormous passion for justice
Helen Bamber OBE

The lawyer formed the human rights organisation in 1961 after reading of two students jailed in fascist Portugal for drinking a toast to liberty.

Since then it has grown into a worldwide network of 1.8m members.

"Peter Benenson was a great man who campaigned for human rights around the world,' said Shami Chakrabati, founder of British-based human rights organisation Liberty.

"We owe it to him to continue that work and not take for granted precious human rights here in the United Kingdom."

Helen Bamber OBE, founder of The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, campaigned with him during the 1960s.

"He was a very kind man, and had an enormous passion for justice," she said.

"It is unbelievable the achievement of one man, that he could spark off a worldwide human rights movement that has saved thousands of people and helped established human rights law and instruments."

Mr Jakobi, who said he was inspired to set up Fair Trials Abroad by Mr Benenson's example, said he had remained an unsung hero.

"When you think of the organisation that he started, he has done more for human welfare than peace prize winners like Nelson Mandela and Ghandi.

"He was the father of human rights - the one who made a stand."

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