Amnesty International paid its outgoing secretary general and deputy secretary general a total of about £850,000 in the year that both women resigned, the organization’s accounts show.
The UK-based organization, which is not a charity but has an associated charitable arm, the Amnesty International UK Section Charitable Trust, said it has taken measures to ensure it never makes similar payments again.
Irene Khan, who served as secretary general until December 2009, received more than £530,000 – more than four times her previous salary – according to the most recent accounts of Amnesty International Ltd.
Her deputy, Kate Gilmore, who also left in December 2009, received more than £320,000, the accounts show.
Peter Pack, chair of Amnesty International's international executive committee, declined to comment on the nature of the agreements, but said in a statement: Before committing to the agreement we signed with Ms Khan, we considered it very carefully and were convinced that it was in the best interest of Amnesty's work.
The payment itself is made up of several elements, some of which dated back several years.
This was a unique situation. None of the current employees, including the new secretary general, are on the terms that applied to Ms Khan.
The new secretary general, with the full support of the international executive committee, has initiated a process to review our employment policies and procedures to ensure that such a situation does not happen again”.
As the first woman, Asian and Muslim to head the organisation, she spent eight years in charge of Amnesty's operations, acting as its chief political adviser and strategist, chief spokeswoman and the chief executive officer of the international secretariat.
Speaking in May 2009 at the launch of Amnesty's global Demand Dignity campaign to fight the abuses that drive poverty, Ms Khan said the world needed a new global deal on human rights which must reject a pick and choose approach and avoid double standards.
The United States does not accept the notion of economic, cultural and social rights while China does not respect civil and political rights. Both governments must sign up to all human rights for all, she said.
”Solutions to global problems must be underpinned by global values of human rights - and those at the top table of world leadership must begin by setting an example”.