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UK: Amnesty director Kate Allen announces her retirement

Responding to the announcement that Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen will be retiring in September, Eilidh Douglas, the Chair of Amnesty International United Kingdom Section Board, and Nicolas Patrick, the Chair of Amnesty International UK Section Charitable Trust, issued a joint statement today. The statement read:

“Kate is a tireless and dedicated human rights defender, who in her 21 years as leader of AIUK has transformed the organisation.

“Among her many achievements, she has created a home for human rights in London, strengthened the participation of children and young people in our work and increased the scale and reach of the human rights movement in the UK.

“Equally at home campaigning with activists and influencing political leaders, she is known and respected across the global movement for her integrity, quiet strength and courage.   

“She has vocally championed the work to rebalance Amnesty’s resources towards the Global South, and to make the global movement genuinely more democratic.

“She has played a key role as part of Amnesty’s research missions, including in Raqqa, Kabul and Israel and the Occupied Territories. 

“Her lifelong dedication to the rights of refugees has seen her strengthen Amnesty UK’s work in this area, take testimony from Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and challenge legal frameworks and misconceptions here in the UK.

“We wish to thank Kate for her many years of dedicated service to Amnesty UK and to the global Amnesty movement, and wish her a well-deserved happy retirement.”

Kate Allen added:

“It has been the privilege of my life be part of the global Amnesty International movement and to lead the UK Section over the past 21 years. We truly are an extraordinary movement of people. 

“I have seen so much positive change for human rights, met so many committed and inspiring people and I know that our global movement for human rights is in a stronger place now than when I joined it 21 years ago.  It needs to be, the struggle for human rights changes shape over time, but that struggle is always there, and Amnesty is unique in being a global community who act in solidary and support to make change happen.

I am proud that Amnesty UK has been a strong voice in our movement for the change we have made to increase our presence in the global south and there is more to do on this. As we move forward, the work we have begun to be a truly anti-racist movement will be central to our strategy and my one deep regret is that I should have begun this work earlier.

“I am looking forward to my retirement and to time with my family and friends, but I will always be an Amnesty supporter, and I will have a lot more time to write those letters.”


At the helm fighting for human rights

Kate Allen joined Amnesty UK as Director in 2000. In her role, Kate has travelled across the world on behalf of the organisation, including joining a research mission to Egypt soon after the revolution in 2011. She has also visited countries including Afghanistan, Kenya, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Rwanda and Nepal - meeting those working to defending human rights and those whose rights have been abused, as well as government representatives.

Kate was previously Deputy Chief Executive at the Refugee Council, where she headed the UK emergency evacuation programmes from Bosnia and Kosovo and chaired the Asylum Rights Campaign. In 1998/99 Kate was seconded to the Home Office where she worked on the 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act.

Kate had planned to retire last year but stayed on help maintain stability during the pandemic. With a pathway out of lockdown well and truly on the horizon, she has revived her plans to wind down after a successful and important career at the helm of the UK arm of the world’s leading human rights organisation.

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