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Amnesty International launches new App to fight attack, kidnap and torture

Panic Button App

Amnesty International launches new open source ‘Panic Button’ app to help activists facing imminent danger.   © Amnesty International

"The aim of the Panic Button is to increase protection for activists around the world who face the ever present threat of arrest, attack, kidnap and torture." - Tanya O’Carroll, Technology and Human Rights Officer for Amnesty International - 


At a Glance

  • Amnesty International launches new open source ‘Panic Button’ app to help activists facing imminent danger
  • First hours after arrest crucial window of opportunity to mobilize action
  • The press of a button sends an immediate SMS distress signal to activists’ own networks
  • Fast to activate and disguised on the phone 
  • Tried and tested with more than 100 users in 17 countries 


A new Panic Button app, to give human rights defenders urgent help from their own networks when facing attack, kidnapping, or torture is now available for public download on Google Playstore, announced Amnesty International today. 

The ‘Panic Button’ mobile app for Android, developed by Amnesty International in collaboration with iilab, activists, tech experts and volunteers from around the world, transforms a user’s smart phone into a secret alarm which can be activated rapidly in the event of an emergency, alerting fellow activists to the danger their colleague faces so that they can get help faster. 

“The aim of the Panic Button is to increase protection for activists around the world who face the ever present threat of arrest, attack, kidnap and torture,” said Tanya O’Carroll, Technology and Human Rights Officer for Amnesty International. 

“We have long known that the first hours after somebody’s arrest are the crucial window of opportunity for a network to make a difference to their colleague’s release—whether it be flooding the police station with calls, arranging a protest, or mobilizing lawyers and organizations like Amnesty International for a campaign of international pressure.” 

“By introducing technology to the fight for human rights, this app updates the power of writing a letter for the 21st century.” 

Panic Button has been made available for global download in four languages after three months of private beta testing with hundreds of users from Amnesty International’s networks in more than 17 countries. 

During the testing phase, activists and journalists expressed that the tool can make a positive difference in mitigating the daily risk of their day-to-day work. 

“It is really scary to find out that an activist has been detained for months without anyone knowing anything about them or working to get them released. We hope Panic Button will ensure future cases of unlawful detention in Sudan do not go undetected allowing us to mobilize to help more people”, said Ibrahim Alsafi, a human rights activist in Sudan who has been involved in the testing and training of the app. 

“This is an essential tool for activists, human rights defenders, students and lawyers. Everyone who might face danger in their work needs to have Panic Button on his or her phone.”   

Director's Message

Greetings, Human Rights Champions!

Firstly, I would like to wish each one of you a belated Happy 2017 and Gong Xi Fa Cai on behalf of the AI Malaysia crew. I hope you have had an amazing start to 2017! Thank you, also, for the continuous support you have given us throughout 2016.

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