Liberal democracies, despite sharing common political and legal systems and values, responded differently when their citizens alleged they were tortured after 9/11. This article argues that understanding these state's different responses is a highly complex matter and cannot be explained away by one factor or theory. However, a more nuanced understanding can be gleaned by examining the domestic legal and political context in terms of how it influenced civil society activism on the issue of the torture of citizens. Using the cases of Australia and the United Kingdom to illustrate, the article suggests particular features of the domestic context enabled or constrained rights activism with consequences for how liberal democracies responded to breaches of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. It examines two such features. The first is a country's rights culture, and the way its history and prior experiences of human rights infractions condition the polity's particular awareness of rights. The second is the country's national human rights framework, which provides important levers for mobilisation around rights issues.