July 24, 2021

United Kingdom and Interpol create a registry of sexual abusers to prevent their access to NGOs | Society

United Kingdom and Interpol create a registry of sexual abusers to prevent their access to NGOs | Society


The news that employees of the international humanitarian aid agency Oxfam, one of the most important in the United Kingdom, had hired the services of local prostitutes – some of them minors – in the months after earthquake that devastated the country in 2010 it was the particular Me Too of international NGOs. The Government of Theresa May announced yesterday the implementation of a registration system for sexual abusers, in collaboration with the international police agency, Interpol, to have greater control of those who work for these organizations.

"This is a historic initiative to curb sexual predators that move from one agency to another without being detected by the radar," he told the newspaper. The Times Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for International Development of the British Government, who will officially announce the proposal in the International Summit for the Safeguarding of Victims, which is being held this week in London.

A report denounces that the majority of NGOs persist in not reporting internal cases of abuse or irregular behavior

The initiative will have a budget of just over two million euros for the first phase of testing. Its promoters hope to endow this global effort with a budget of close to 11 million euros over the next five years. The collaboration of the international police agency, Interpol, and its system of green alarms, which allows to have information in real time to the various security forces of the world of criminal movements or activities in progress; 192 member countries will be able to use the new system.

EL PAÍS has consulted Interpol on the preparations developed for this new project, without having received a detailed response for the time being. The secretary general of the agency, Jürgen Stoch, has stated through an official statement that "an important part of Interpol's mission is to protect the most vulnerable members of society from those most dangerous. Something much more important when sexual predators try to abuse those – men, women or children – whom they are supposed to protect from all evil. "

The British Government has also announced its intention to cooperate with NGOs to test a new passport for agency workers that not only indicates their individual identification, but also incorporates a background check and signals whether or not they have been banned to work.

Last June, Haiti banned Oxfam from operating in the country. In the image, the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Fleurant, shows the order against the NGO.
Last June, Haiti banned Oxfam from operating in the country. In the image, the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Fleurant, shows the order against the NGO.

The database will be called Soteria, in reference to the goddess of Greek mythology who personified personal protection, as explained by sources of the Ministry for International Development of the United Kingdom. It will allow humanitarian aid agencies to carry out checks on criminal or police records of those people who intend to hire. Through a secure network consultation system, the new instrument will go beyond warning of the possible conviction for sexual abuse of the personalities consulted. Alert in addition to the accusations or ongoing investigations.

The announcement of this new international control system to put order in the activities of the NGOs arises at the same time as the publication of the final report of the Charity Commission (DC), the British government agency in charge of controlling and channeling funds for organizations, on complaints from the Oxfam sexual scandal in Haiti and of subsequent scandals that have affected humanitarian agencies. The CC denounces in its document the persistence of the majority of NGOs in not reporting internal cases of abuse or irregular behavior.

"We are still not convinced that we have already known everything we need to know. We work with aid agencies to change the culture of the complaint, and ensure that they become safe institutions and better prepared to change the lives of people, "said Sarah Atkinson, the director of Policies, Plans and Communication of the CC.

The report made by this institution on the protection of victims against possible abuses concludes that only a tiny part of the international agencies of registered grants, 1.5%, have reported some kind of serious incident in their midst since they were required to do so in 2014.

The Oxfam agency, the origin and cause of this increased awareness of the activities of international aid agencies, has responded through its spokesperson to the announcement of the creation of the database: "We welcome the initiative of the minister, an important step to protect those we protect from sexual predators. Since 2011 we have made important improvements in our methods of action (improvements accelerated since last February), but we know we must do more. We express our deepest apologies for our inability to stop the abuses in Haiti and for the shortcuts that were adopted to respond to the incident. "

The internal investigation carried out at the time by Oxfam He revealed that the director of the organization in Haiti, the Belgian Roland van Hauwermeiren, had hired young local prostitutes and brought them to the villa that Oxfam had rented. Four employees were dismissed and three more resigned, but shortly after it became known that the director of the NGO, Barbara Stocking, offered to van Hauwermeiren "a gradual and dignified exit" instead of firing him off, in exchange for his collaboration in the investigation. The Belgian was able to escape criminally unscathed from the scandal and even join another humanitarian agency.

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