Roger Casement was an Irish nationalist and human rights campaigner. Whilst working for the British Foreign Office he investigated human rights abuses and reports of atrocities in The Congo and South America. His investigations lead to many improvements for indigenous people and he was knighted for his efforts in 1911.
After the outbreak of the First World War, Casement travelled to Germany to try and gain support for Irish independence. He returned to Ireland in 1916 aboard a German U-boat and took part in the Easter Rising. There he was arrested by the British government, charged with high treason and sentenced to death.
Arthur Conan Doyle, who had worked with Casement on raising awareness of crimes in The Congo, campaigned against this sentence. This petition, written in Conan Doyle’s own hand, argues that Casement’s actions were due to the 'severe strain' put on him whilst in service for the crown as well as the effect of 'several tropical fevers'. Conan Doyle also felt that the British government’s use of slander against Casement during the trial was unfair and unjust.
The campaign was supported by many literary figures, including W B Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy but was eventually unsuccessful and Casement was hanged in 1916.