'Amnesty International UK exhibits institutional racism,' review finds

06 Apr 2022 News

Amnesty International UK “exhibits institutional racism” and previously “failed to properly embed equality, inclusion and anti-racism” throughout the organisation, an independent inquiry has said.  

Global HPO was appointed to conduct an independent inquiry after reports last year after former staff and board members raised concerns about systemic racism

Amnesty UK apologised. Four senior leaders left Amnesty UK, but did not link their resignations to the allegations. 

The independent inquiry has now completed its first stage, which included reviewing policies, analysing employment data from 2017 – 2021 and one-to-one interviews and focus groups with former and current staff of the charity. 

Staff and supporters deserved better, says interim CEO

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty UK’s interim chief executive, said: “It is important that we recognise and clearly acknowledge that Amnesty UK did exhibit institutional racism, and over many years failed to properly embed equality, inclusion and anti-racism in its culture and practices. Staff and supporters have rightly expected, and deserved, better.

“Our values and mission must be at the heart of the working environment we offer to all our colleagues. 

“We will be working closely with Global HPO during the final co-creation phase of their inquiry, to feed into their thinking on the actions that we need to take.”

‘Significant progress is required’ in several areas

Global HPO said the inquiry has found there have been some improvements since last year. However, significant progress is still required in several areas to ensure EDI practices run throughout the charity’s operations. 

The firm identified several areas for improvement. This includes addressing the working culture across the whole organisation.

Global HPO also recommends Amnesty UK improve its governance capabilities, organisational infrastructure, leadership and management capabilities and the development of best practice in policies and procedures also require improvement. 

The full report is set to be presented to the charity next month. 

'We must prioritise anti-racism'

Sen Raj, chair of the board of Amnesty UK Section, said: “As an international human rights movement, we must prioritise anti-racism, and we must not underestimate the work needed to transform the working practices, activist dynamics, and organisational culture of Amnesty UK. 

“We are especially grateful to our staff and activists from global majority backgrounds who contribute their physical, emotional, and intellectual labour to address institutional racism within our movement.”

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