Financier Soros gifts $139m to human rights watchdog

Continuing a lifelong habit of putting money where his mouth is, George Soros has announced a gift of US$100 million ($139 million) to Human Rights Watch, the organisation which seeks to monitor abuses of power and to lobby transgressing governments and companies.

The billionaire financier – known as the “man who broke the Bank of England” for betting that the pound would drop out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 – said the gift was one of a series he planned to give to liberally minded charities and campaign groups.

The donation will put the once-small group into the same league as organisations such as Amnesty International. It will allow Human Rights Watch to add 120 members of staff to its 300-strong payroll, and almost double its annual budget to US$76 million, meaning it could expand operations in such countries as South Africa, China and India.

The New York-based group, founded in 1978, devotes most of its manpower to forensic investigations into human rights abuses. It then typically publishes hard-hitting reports into the people and organisations who might be held responsible.

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