An independent review into the payments made by Amnesty International to its former Secretary General, Irene Khan, and her deputy, Kate Gilmore, when they left the organization in December 2009 has described the payouts as "excessive" and above what was legally and contractually necessary.
In an interim report to Amnesty International’s governing board – the International Executive Committee (IEC), the review’s author, former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Anne Owers, says she believes the decision to award the payments stemmed from "systemic failures in management and governance" that had accumulated in previous years. She adds that the issues Amnesty International’s governing board had to deal with at the time were "extremely difficult and challenging."
Dame Anne notes the "meticulous and assiduous work over the period in question" of the IEC’s outgoing chair, Peter Pack, and praises him for "holding nothing back" during the review, as well as "tak[ing] responsibility for his actions and decisions."
Dame Anne also notes the changes that have already been implemented to strengthen both the management and the governance of Amnesty International’s International Secretariat, and makes further recommendations.
The chair of the IEC thanked Dame Anne for her thorough review and welcomed her recommendations.
"This was a very difficult period for all of us, and Dame Anne’s review has highlighted a number of weaknesses in the way the IEC handled the negotiations to secure the departures of the then Secretary General, Irene Khan and her deputy Kate Gilmore,as well as some failures in the management systems of the International Secretariat of Amnesty International," said Peter Pack.
"In particular we accept that the IEC paid more than was strictly necessary to secure Irene Khan and Kate Gilmore’s departures. Throughout the period, our over-riding concern was not to disrupt Amnesty International’s vital human rights work or allow internal difficulties to damage Amnesty International’s reputation. But we accept that, in trying very hard to protect AI’s operations and reputation, by keeping difficult decisions around these departures confidential, we inadvertently contributed to a situation which has caused deep concern to many of AI’s supporters and staff. We reiterate our unreserved apology for the upset caused by these decisions, and for their adverse impact on Amnesty International."
"In addition to the measures that have already been implemented to address the failures of the past, we hope to implement further changes, including those recommended by Dame Anne, without delay."