Amnesty UK ‘exhibits institutional racism’, inquiry finds

An independent inquiry into allegations of racism at Amnesty UK has found that the charity “exhibits institutional racism” and had previously failed to embed equality, inclusion and anti-racism into its organisations.

The inquiry is being carried out by Global HPO Ltd and commissioned by the charity’s section board, activists, trade union shop, management and former staff last year.

According to its early findings there “have been some improvements” since summer 2021 but “significant progress is required”.

Its inquiry calls for improvements in leadership, evaluating equality and diversity data and improving the whole organisation’s “working culture”.

Improvements are also needed in governance, the infrastructure of the organisation, learning and development as well as ensuring policies and procedures are updated.

Global HPO’s full findings and recommendations are due to be reported at the end of May. The charity has pledged to publish the inquiry’s report and recommendations “in full” when completed.

“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,” said Amnesty UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh.

“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.”

Amnesty UK chair Sen Raj, added: “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.

“We are looking forward to Global HPO’s report and recommendations in May, so we can add to and accelerate the anti-racism work we are doing.”

Last year the charity’s director Kate Allen brought forward the date of her planned retirement as the charity dealt with reports of racism in its organisation.

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