The UK chair of Amnesty International has referred himself to the organisations internal standards procedures after Scrapbook revealed a string of jokes at the expense of the mentally ill.
Having been elected to lead the Amnesty board, Ciarnan Helferty went on to post numerous messages on Twitter (read here in full) about schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder:
“I understand why concerns have been expressed and apologise unreservedly for any offence or embarrassment caused by my jokes. This was not my intent and I remain deeply committed to equality, human rights and the effective support of those living with disabilities and mental health problems.”
“I have now referred myself to Amnesty International UK’s internal processes under its Code of Conduct for Board members.”
Suffice it to say Helferty’s comments have not gone down well with Amnesty members, several of whom have threatened to quit what is arguably the world’s most respected campaign organisation.
The row also saw schizophrenia sufferers themselves taking Helferty to task over the hurt such comments can cause:
@ciarnanhelferty I have schizophrenia. Makes it even harder work when people have wrong ideas about it. Your ‘jokes’ aren’t helping.
— Ceri (@tiredlegs) July 26, 2013
— Katy Gray (@SchizophrenicGB) July 26, 2013
The next Amnesty UK board meeting is scheduled for 21 September.