Report found instances of institutional racism at the group
Amnesty International’s chief executive has stood down two months earlier than planned amid controversy over institutional racism and bullying.
Katie Allen announced she would quit the post in September, but has told staff she will now be leaving immediately after calls for her to step down.
In April an internal review by Amnesty’s secretariat concluded there was a culture of white privilege at the organisation, with incidents of overt racism including senior staff using the N-word and micro-aggressive behaviour such as the touching of black colleagues’ hair.
It came as eight current and former employees of Amnesty International UK (AIUK) described their own experiences of racial discrimination and issued a statement calling on senior figures to stand down.
One of the whistleblowers, Katherine Odukoya, said: “We joined Amnesty hoping to campaign against human rights abuses but were instead let down through realising that the organisation actually helped perpetuate them.”
Representatives of both arms of the UK-based human rights organisation apologised and pledged to make changes, with the director of AIUK citing “the uncomfortable fact that we have not been good enough”.
Sacha Deshmukh has been announced as AIUK’s interim chief executive and will lead the charity until at least January next year while it searches for a permanent successor.
Deshmukh was previously executive director of Unicef UK, but resigned after less than six months in the role having made claims of bullying behaviour against the charity’s then-chair, Douglas Alexander.
An independent inquiry subsequently rejected the claims against Alexander.
Deshmukh said: “I want to create an inclusive and rights-respecting culture which allows the brilliant people who work and volunteer for Amnesty to thrive.”
It will also recruit for a new role, director of investments.