Steve Crawshaw

Policy and Advocacy Director at Freedom From Torture

Social Impact Member

I am a conduit for confronting torture, and for understanding the power of creative protest for change.


I’m passionate about campaigning to end torture, ensuring a better deal for torture survivors in the UK, and confronting the backsliding on the global ban on torture – where, for example, the British government wants a new law which could provide impunity for perpetrators of torture (extraordinary, but true). More broadly, I am passionate about stories which help us understand the power of creative protest to make change. My books on those themes draw on my experiences as a journalist with The Independent and my time meeting extraordinary people while at Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and now Freedom from Torture. I seek to pay tribute to what


Anybody can help by supporting Freedom from Torture campaigns, both in the global context and to ensure that the Home Office shows more humanity in its treatment of torture survivors who arrive in the UK. On the books I have written: I will be happy if my stories or analysis can be used to help people better understand the power of non-violent protest for systemic change. I’m happy to talk more on any of these themes.


Steve is the policy and advocacy director at Freedom from Torture. Before joining Freedom from Torture he was UK director and UN advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, International Advocacy Director and Director of the Office of the Secretary-General at Amnesty International, and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights at the London School of Economics. He was a founding member of the Independent, where his roles included as Russia and East Europe Editor (covering the east European revolutions and the Balkan wars) and Germany bureau chief. His interviewees ranged from Václav Havel and Slobodan Milošević to Salman Rushdie and Aung San Suu Kyi. He is the author of Goodbye to the USSR (Ryszard Kapusciński: “fascinating and vivid”), and Easier Fatherland: Germany and the Twenty-First Century, (John le Carré: “rare and long overdue”). He is co-author with John Jackson of Small Acts of Resistance, foreword by Václav Havel (2010). His Street Spirit: The Power of Protest and Mischief, foreword by Ai Weiwei, recently appeared in Arabic and Chinese. He studied Russian and German at the universities of Oxford and Leningrad (St Petersburg), and taught English in Poland during the Solidarity era that helped end one-party rule.