Sara Whyatt is a campaigner and researcher on freedom of artistic expression and human rights, notably as a director at PEN International for over 20 years and previously for Amnesty International. At PEN she worked with its global membership of writers based in over 100 countries mobilising its campaigns for writers at risk as well as on thematic issues.  She left PEN in 2013 to take up freelance consultancy, working on projects including for Freemuse, Culture Action Europe, PEN, and  UNESCO. Her recent projects include developing a toolkit for artists and art organisations on promoting and protecting arts freedom, working with a Turkish arts organisation advising them on a submission to the UN Human Rights Council, numerous articles on human rights defenders and arts freedom for the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, and strategic review, redesign and editing of PEN International’s case list of writers at risk. She is the author of the chapter on freedom of artistic expression for UNESCO’s Global Report on the Convention on the Diversity of Cultures, to be published in late 2017.  website

Example’s of Sara’s work:


Sara developed and led PEN International’s global freedom of expression strategy between 1990-2013. Durng this time she assisted in the establishment in 2006 of the International Cities of Refuge Network, and developing its working practices.


Training has been central to Sara’s work, through workshops, and producing handbooks and tool kits on protecting and promoting freedom of expression for PEN Writers in Prison Committee, and CultureActionEurope’s Arts Rights Justice project.

Connecting and Mapping

Sara’s many years of heading up a small team of experts providing global research, monitoring and advocacy at PEN and Amnesty International gives her understanding of the challenges and ways to utilise global networks for change.

Research, Evaluation and Writing

Sara has produced numerous reports and articles for AI and PEN, and since gong freelance continues to write reports, such as in Turkey: Freedom of Expression Under A Shadow for PEN Norway, a series of articles and interviews with freedom of expression ‘heroes’ from across the globe for IFEX, articles and a report for the UN on Turkey for Freemuse. In 2015 she was researcher on UNESCO’s 2015 report on the Convention on the Diversity of Cultures, and is author of the chapter on freedom of artistic expression for the Convention’s 2017 report.

Sara has edited many reports, such as PEN America’s report on freedom of expression in China, the English language translation of Turkish banned  publication on the history of civil commotion in Turkey. In 2016 she carried out an overhaul and review, and editing of PEN International’s 2016 case list of writers in peril.

 Working with Legal Frameworks

Sara has worked with PEN, Freemuse and the Turkish arts organization, Siyah Bant in engagement of artists with the United Nations notably with various UN Council on Human Rights ‘mechanism’ including liaising with experts, making written statements and panel debates within the UN.  special rapporteurs, UPRs, submissions.

Public Speaking and Events

Sara has many years experience of organizing international conferences and workshops, notably  PEN International’s biennial Writers in Prison Committees (1996-2012)

Sara has been a speaker and panelist at numerous events globally on freedom of expression, artistic freedom and advocacy.