Amnesty International criticised for using non-disclosure agreement in relation to alleged £800k payment

Amnesty International has been criticised for using a non-disclosure agreement in relation to the payment of a reported £800,000 to the family of one its researchers who took his own life. 

Gaëtan Mootoo, who was 65, died at the charity’s Paris offices in May 2018 after a 32-year career with Amnesty. 

He left a note that mentioned his workload at the charity and said he had tried to get help, but help was "not possible".

An independent review of the circumstances around his death found changes to his working conditions had resulted in him making several requests for more support, and witnesses had said Mootoo felt abandoned in the French capital. 

The Times newspaper reported that the charity had paid £800,000 in compensation to Mootoo’s family, which would avoid a court case. 

But it also said both sides had signed an NDA preventing either party from discussing the settlement with the press or on social media.

This led to criticism on social media, with people asking why an organisation such as Amnesty would condone the use of non-disclosure agreements. 

Shaista Aziz, co-founder of the feminist advocacy group NGO Safe Space, questioned on Twitter why the “world’s leading human rights organisation” was employing the contracts. 

Others said it was “depressing”, while another person accused the charity of double standards. 

One user said: “I do support Amnesty, but I want a damn good response to this.”

An Amnesty International statement said: “Following reports in the media, Amnesty International can confirm that an out of court settlement has been reached with the family of Gaëtan Mootoo, our researcher who tragically took his own life in 2018. 

“After close consultation with the family, all parties agreed to be bound by a confidentiality agreement as to the detail of the settlement. 

“The payment will not be made from donations or membership fees.”

The charity declined to make any further comment, including on where the funds to pay the settlement were coming from. 

Although he was based in France, Mootoo was employed by Amnesty’s International Secretariat in London. 

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