Report welcomed as a good foundation to start, but perpetrators and enablers may still go free as ‘prosecution’ not yet a priority.
The United Kingdom Parliament released a scathing report Wednesday (here) of the massive scale of sexual abuse by UN and Aid agencies, including Child Rape – yet failed to strengthen the law to put perpetrators and enablers in jail.
The House of Commons ‘International Development Committee’ report acknowledges:
- Sexual exploitation, including child rape is ‘endemic’ in the aid industry.
- The known problems of sexual exploitation and abuse, including child rape, have been known for years.
- Generations of NGO and UN leaders have failed to crack down on the problem even though it was known.
- That the scale of the problem is much larger than previously thought.
- That the known scale, even though massive and huge, is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Abuse, rape and child rape is a massively under-reported crime where no one yet is doing any meaningful actions to understand the massive scale of the abuses that go unreported.
- That victims either are unaware that they can report these crimes, fear reporting these crimes, or feel reporting the crimes is useless as nothing is ever done.
- That there is little or no prosecution of people who rape children while working in the Aid Industry.
HearTheirCries.org, and organisation set up to fight the sexual abuse of children by civilian workers in the aid industry, and who gave written evidence to the enquiry (HTC submission is here), welcomes the report but says it does not go far enough by missing the key point of accountability: Prosecution.
“In 116 pages this report goes on to describe how long and big the problem is and begins to point to solutions”, Prof Andrew MacLeod, spokesman and co-founder for HearTheirCries.org says, “Yet in those 116 pages the word ‘Prosecution’ only appears three times.”
According to HearTheirCries.org there are two critical steps to tackle this problem into the future:
- Strengthen the law to prosecute the enablers of child rape and sexual abuse.
- Undertake academically defensible studies into the under-reported nature of the crimes, so that we can all understand just how big the problem is.
Current UK law allows for the prosecution of UK nationals anywhere in the world if they have sex with a child under the age of 16. MacLeod has been calling, since 2009, for the so called ‘Child-Sex Tourism Laws’ that exist to prosecute paedophiles going on sex holidays to Thailand and Cambodia, to also be applied to the Aid Industry.
“Existing law does not say ‘you can’t have sex with a child under 16 while you are on holiday’”, MacLeod says. “Rather, the law says you cannot have sex with a child anywhere in the world any time. So why not apply this existing law to the Aid industry?”
MacLeod further states that it is also a crime to aid, abet or assist in a child sex offence.
“To what extent is turning a willful blind eye to the problem, for so long and so often, constitute ‘aiding and abetting by neglect’, MacLeod asks.
“We should strengthen the law for prosecution of charity CEOs and Trustees for aiding and abetting child sex crimes as for decades they knew, or ought to have known, these endemic crimes were taking place and they have manifestly failed to stop these offences.”
“Yes, trustees and CEOs should be prosecuted”, he says.
The British Government report acknowledges the scale of the problem is massively under-estimated as there is no data on the underreported nature of the crime.
“We all acknowledge available data is poor” MacLeod says, “but HearTheirCries.org estimates over 60,000 incidents of sexual exploitation, abuse and child rape at the hands of the UN over the last decade. While we were roundly criticised for ‘exaggerating’ the problem, it is now becoming more and more clear that HTC’s error was in underestimating the scale of the problem”, MacLeod says.
A Swedish funded report in 2015 claims 58,000 victims of sexual abuse over the last 9 years, just in Monrovia, let alone the rest of Liberia, and only amongst 18-35 year old female victims.
The Swedish funded report does not count children in that horrendous 58,000 figure.
“Whilst we concede that our 60,000 estimate appears now to be well under-estimating the scale of the problem, what the inconclusive data, and now the British Government report clearly show, is we need more funding to research the true size and scale of this out of control problem”, MacLeod says.
HearTheirCries.org is a fully self-funded Swiss Association made up of former UN staff, whistle-blowers, internal investigators and lawyers working to protect the rights of those abused by Aid Workers and the UN.