Amnesty International – Successes?

Where is Amnesty International? Are their success stories, too little, too late? Have their accomplishments dwindled as their banknotes rise?  With so much horror in the world why are they silent from the media?

With operating revenue of $38 million as of 2014, accomplishments seem slim, talk big, and an ongoing desire for ‘volunteers’ growing. When viewing the 15 biggest accomplishments of 2013, it just didn’t seem to add up to $38 million. Some pats on the back were more than a bit over reaching;

  1. Using Google earth to show human rights violations in Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Eritrea. Surely that was a few hours of computer research at best?
  2. Taking credit for the repealing of the death penalty in Maryland? In fact, when I researched Maryland’s death penalty law there was absolutely nothing mentioned of Amnesty International being instrumental, there was Kirk Bloodsworth, a convicted rapist and murderer whose death sentence was repealed after DNA evidence proved his innocence. And it was his steadfast work, his documentary film, his active efforts to reform the law that convinced then Governor, O’Malley, to change the law.
  3. They published a report on drone strikes in Pakistan. But drone strikes continue, not just in Pakistan, but Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The number dead is an estimate. The number wounded is unknown.
  4. They talk of Beatriz, an El Salvadoran woman denied medical treatment that Amnesty ‘saved’? The treatment was an abortion that was denied based on the very strict law in the country. The treatment that she was ultimately allowed was a c-section to remove the infant when it was discovered he had no brain. But the active protests in El Salvador were not by Amnesty, they were by another human rights group. The group holding protests in the UK was central America Women’s Network. Where was Amnesty?
  5. A number of other accomplishments list petitions that were circulated…

All in all, while their efforts are not without good hearts, I truly fail to see that they account for $38 million in revenue to accomplish these feats. There are literally thousands upon thousands of churches across the globe that accomplish far more for far less. I imagine they would be ecstatic to have an annual budget of $38 million to defeat inhumanity.

And while their balance sheet as of December 31, 2014 shows investments totaling nearly $15 million, or roughly half it’s annual income, I’d say they are not putting their money to human right use so much as holding on to it with a death grip. In addition they have nearly $5 million in cash and over $3 million in Prepaid Expenses (an expense that you have not yet incurred but paid for – obviously a company needs a solid cash flow in order to prepay to such an extent – 9% of total annual revenue).

And while Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s current Secretary General, pockets over $300,000 in an annual salary it is the ‘other form of compensation’ that is left unanswered given the information is not transparent in it’s Financial reporting. While on the surface it barely matches Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood who routinely takes massive raises and is purported to make into $600,000 range, the ‘salary’ does not include ‘other compensation’ which is listed on US Form 990 and can be as much as the base salary. In addition, apparently charities recognize a 35 hour work week which seems a bit odd – although preferable if you are on the receiving end.

It is also worth noting that revenue nearly tripled between 2011 and 2012. Salaries nearly quadrupled and the Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel had total compensation of $473,500. Whether their executives earn the value of their compensation is subjective and debatable. But this is a charity, an organization exempt from paying taxes as a direct result of their charitable efforts, their performance. And I do not see any radical achievements in the last decade that would make this charity notable or worthy. I believe it was created with the intention and the character of worthiness, but it would seem to have slid into the decay of greed, misinformation and false accolade that has embroiled itself in scandal, misuse of funds, and an agenda that has muddied its focus.

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