From the Sydney Morning Herald, this AAP story recorded Khan's comments.
The poverty experienced by many Aborigines is as morally reprehensible as torture and must be eradicated, Amnesty International secretary-general Irene Khan says.
In Australia for a week-long visit, Ms Khan has also called on the Rudd government to end the discriminatory measures of the Northern Territory intervention into remote indigenous communities.
They were "stigmatising and disempowering an already marginalised people", she said.
Ms Khan visited Aboriginal homeland communities in central Australia before addressing the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
The poverty she saw northeast of Alice Springs reminded her of a third world country, she said in a statement.
"That indigenous peoples experience human rights violations on a continent of such privilege is not merely disheartening, it is morally outrageous," she said.
"The moral imperative to eradicate such poverty is no less an imperative on government than to eliminate torture."
Ms Khan, the first woman, first Asian and first Muslim to head the world's largest human rights organisation, also blasted federal Labor for continuing the former Howard government's interventionist policies.
She was particularly scathing of the compulsory quarantining of welfare payments and suggested there was a "real risk" Labor could squander an opportunity to change direction.
"The blunt force of the intervention's heavy-handed one-size-fits-all approach cannot deliver the desired results," Ms Khan said.
"The government will not secure the long-term protection of women and children unless there is an integrated human rights solution that empowers peoples and engages them to take responsibility for the solutions."
The Racial Discrimination Act was suspended in the Northern Territory to allow the intervention's more controversial measures to be introduced.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has vowed to reinstate the act and will introduce the relevant legislation into federal parliament within days.
But Ms Khan warned Labor needed to do so "in line with Australia's international obligations not to discriminate against indigenous peoples".