Australia

No investigation to be launched into Amnesty Australia bullying allegations

There will be no international investigation. Source: Twitter

Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo says the organisation “is not perfect.”

The Secretary-General of Amnesty International says an investigation won’t be launched into allegations of “rife” bullying and harassment at the Australian branch of the NGO.

Kumi Naidoo told SBS News he has “looked at the issue already,” and said where there are “verified, formal,” complaints made the organisation will investigate it fully.

A recent independent report into the international branch that exposed a “toxic” workplace culture didn’t study conditions inside the Australian branch of the organisation. 

In February, Mr Naidoo received a letter claiming to be supported by more than 50 current and former staff members, begging him to initiate a similar independent review in Australia.

“We will continue to liaise with the board but we are comfortable that the board in Australia, which is an independent legal entity, has taken the appropriate steps up to now,” Mr Naidoo told SBS News.

“I don’t intend to launch an international investigation into it.”

Mr Naidoo admitted the organisation “isn’t perfect,” and said his team will continue to ensure diversity and inclusion is taken seriously.

Staff wrote a letter to Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo.
Kumi Naidoo.
Getty Images North America

“There is no place for bullying or harassment at Amnesty.”

Earlier this month SBS News spoke to three whistleblowers who previously worked at Amnesty Australia and who described a “culture of fear and retribution” at the organisation.

One expressed concerns that the situation could lead to tragic results for staff, citing the two suicides which happened at Amnesty International.

“The impact of stress right now is extremely serious and has the real potential of leading to suicide and self-harm attempts,” a former staffer told SBS News at the time.

Since publishing the story more than half a dozen current and former staff have contacted SBS News to share their stories.

Many told of a high work pressure environment and a lack of support for staff in the organisation.

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Racism is incarcerating Indigenous children: Amnesty
Racism is incarcerating Indigenous children: Amnesty

“I’ve worked in post-conflict zones in the middle-east so I know about high-stress environments. But it was nothing compared to the stress of working at Amnesty Australia,” one former staff member said.

SBS also received a copy of a 2017 internal 'Diversity and Inclusion Survey’ of all its staff, which found 17 per cent of staff had experienced discrimination at the organisation in the previous 12 months.

Twelve per cent had experienced harassment and 15 per cent had witnessed harassment.

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