Sunday, February 16, 2014

#1 Questions for the Australian-based NGO 'Global Development Group' re its funding of Citipointe church's 'SHE Rescue Home'

Chita (left) and Rosa (right) are not, as Brisbane based Citipointe church claims, 'victims of human trafficking'. Their parents, Chanti (pointing in this photo) and Chhork , accepted an offer of short term assistance in Cambodia (recently voted most corrupt country in Asia ) from Citipointe in mid 2008. When they asked the church to return the girls, Citipointe refused. The church retains custody of Rosa and Chita despite their parents having been asking for their return for more than five years.

Directors of the Global Development Group 
Board Unit 6
734 Underwood Road
Rochedale, QLD 4123

8th Feb 2014

Dear David James Pearson, Geoffrey Winston Armstrong
Ofelia (fe) Luscombe, Alan Benson and David Robertson

I am a filmmaker and journalist, in the final stages of producing a feature length documentary by the name of CHANTI’S WORLD – set in Cambodia. I am also writing a book by the same name. Citipointe church’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ features in both my documentary and book. The ‘SHE Rescue Home’ is also the recipient of funds from the DFAT approved Global Development Group. It is imperative that both my documentary and book be factually accurate. Hence this letter.

Chita and Rosa in 2005

The Global Development Group is described online as a:

“charity organization carrying out humanitarian projects with approved partners and providing aid to relieve poverty in a tangible way. We provide long term solutions through the provision of quality aid development projects in approved countries.”

It would appear, from what is written here, that Citipointe Church’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ is an ‘approved partner’ of GDG? Is this so?

On your website GDG goes on to declare:

“Regular visits with our project partners – whether In- Country or Australian – are an important aspect of on-going two way communication with our project partners.”

Would it be fair to extrapolate from this that GDG has visited Citipointe church’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ many times.

Your website also declares that GDG places an:

“Emphasis on Project monitoring and evaluation making long term difference to nations.”

Has the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ been monitored and its programs assessed for their effectiveness? When did the most recent monitoring occur? Was the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ found to be effective in meeting the goals of the GDG?

GDG is a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) an organization that commits its members to:

“high standards of integrity and accountability.”

Given that the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ is a recipient of GDG funds, are you, as members of the GDG board, satisfied that Citipointe church administers the She Rescue Home in accordance with 

“high standards of integrity and accountability.”

The Global Development Group website declares that GDG is:

“a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct, which provides standards on management, communication with the public and most importantly how funds are spent.”

Chanti in 1997

Are you, as board members, satisfied that Citipointe abides by the ACFID Code of Conduct and with the way in which Citipointe spends the funds provided to the church by the GDG to administer the ‘SHE Rescue Home’?

Has Citipointe informed its partner (GDG) of the complaints I have been making for five years now about the illegal removal and detention of two girls from their family? If the church has deliberately withheld this information shouldn’t GDG’s assessment and monitoring processes reveal allegations as serious as the ones I have been making about the NGO?

How thorough is the assessment and monitoring of GDG supported NGOs and is the assessment and monitoring conducted by some independent body or by either the NGOs themselves or representatives of GDG who are not qualified to conduct such monitoring or assessing?

How much money does the Global Development Group provide on an annual basis? I imagine that this will be contained in GDG’s Annual Report. Could I please be provided with a copy of this report?

The GDG website describes the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ as:

“a holistic development project and after care shelter catering to the specific needs girls aged 5 – 16 who have been raped, prostituted, trafficked or at risk...SHE staff are committed to working holistically with the girls and their families to bring overall change to them, their community and the national of Cambodia by empowerment of the whole family unit. SHE works towards this through education and the alleviation of poverty with a family assistance program and micro-enterprise endeavours. The project’s goal, where possible, is the safe reintegration of the girls to their families and Khmer culture.”

Is the GDG board satisfied, based on its own monitoring and assessment processes, that this is a truthful and accurate description of the program undertaken by Citipointe church in Cambodia?

Chita, Vanna and Rosa, 2005

If the GDG board were to be provided with cogent evidence that Citipointe church is in breach of both the GDG code of conduct and that of the Australian Council for International Development, would GDG continue to provide funds to Citipointe church?

Let me be more specific: If the GDG board were to be provided with evidence that Citipointe church had illegally removed two young Cambodian girls from their family in 2008 and has been detaining them against the express wishes of their parents for the past five and a half years, what action would you take? Would you seek from Citipointe a response to the allegations?

Allegations are, of course, easy to make. Allegations that are not backed up with evidence are just that – allegations.

For evidence pertaining to Citipointe church’s illegal removal of two girls from their family please visit the following blog:

You need not, indeed ought not, presume that anything I write in the blog is true, though a little research, a few questions and an interview with the parents of the kidnapped children will reveal that is it.

In order to form your own independent assessment of the truth or otherwise of my allegations you could start with one question to put to Citipointe church:

“Please provide the Global Development Group with copies of any agreements Citipointe has entered into with any Cambodian authorities that give the church a legal right to detain Yem Chanthy and Both Chhork’s daughters – Rosa and Chita – against the express wishes of their parents?”

This is a question that Chanti and Chhork have been asking for five years. This is a question I have been asking for five years, in my capacity as Chanti and Chhork’s legally appointed advocate. This is a question that has been asked by Cambodia’s leading human rights organization, LICADHO.

Citipointe refuses to answer this question. The church refuses to provide any documented proof that its actions in removing Rosa and Chita from the family in 2008 was legal. The church likewise refuses to provide any evidence that its actions in holding Rosa and Chita in Feb 2014 is legal.

In the interests of factual accuracy in both my documentary and book there are some other questions I would like to be provided with answers to:

- When did the GDG become partners with She rescue home. How did this process come about?
- Does GDG have any affiliation itself with a religious group, church etc?
- Is GDG aware that Chanti’s children are being denied the right to choose their own religious beliefs? Does GDG approve of such behavior on the part of an NGO in receipt of GDG funding?
- Is GDG aware that in 2013 the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ claimed online that the church had released 11 children back into the care of the families – the daughter of one such family claiming that SHE had bought the family pigs as her father and mother could not work. Why then, given that Chant and Chhork do work, do have a home, do have an income, are their daughters still being held by the church contrary to the express wishes of their parents?
- Given Citipointe church’s proven track record in deceit and the thinly veiled threats made against myself by Pastor Brian Mulheran (see blog) can anything Citipointe claims to be true be accepted at face value?

Chanti and Rosa 2005

My concerns here are two-fold:

(1) If you discover, as I am sure you will if you do your homework, that Citipointe has no legal right to detain Rosa and Chita, there is clearly a problem with your assessment and monitoring processes.

(2) If the Global Development Group’s monitoring and assessment processes have failed to reveal that Citipointe church is, in effect, kidnapping children from impoverished Cambodian families and presenting them to potential donors and sponsors as ‘victims of human trafficking’, can GDG rest assured that similar scams are not being perpetrated by other NGO recipients of GDG funds? 

Or, to put it another way, are generous donors to the Global Development Group (with a DFAT imprimatur providing it with legitimacy) inadvertently supporting NGOs that violate the human rights of the very people they are supposed to be helping?

Given Citipointe’s declaration that the church is committed to “ the alleviation of poverty with a family assistance program and micro-enterprise endeavours” you might like to ask what assistance the church has provided to the family this past five and a half years? What ‘micro-enterprise endeavours’ the church has engaged in to help this family? The answer is not $1 in assistance in five years. Don’t take my word for it. Ask Citipointe. Ask Chanti and her husband. Ask the community in which Chanti and her family live.

In relation to Citipointe’s declaration that “The project’s goal, where possible, is the safe reintegration of the girls to their families and Khmer culture,” ask the church to provide GDG with copies of any re-integration programs undertaken by the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ this past five years. You will find that there are none. And you will find also that Citipointe, whilst indoctrinating Rosa and Chita in the church’s own particular brand of the Christian faith, refuses to allow the girls to engage in any Khmer festivities or celebrations with their family or community.

The current cut of CHANTI’S WORLD ends with Rosa and Chita still detained by Citipointe church’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ – an NGO that receives funding from the DFAT approved Global Development Group. At present I am working on the presumption that the Global Development Group is unaware of the human rights abuses being perpetrated by Citipointe church.

If the Global Development Group is not satisfied that Citipointe has a legal right to detain Rosa and Chita contrary to the wishes of their parents, I trust that it will publicly distance itself from Citipointe’s illegal activities in Cambodia and so not be tainted by its association with the church when CHANTI’S WORLD is completed and screened worldwide.

By the time you receive this letter I will be in Cambodia putting the finishing touches to my documentary, CHANTI’S WORLD. I can be contacted by email, however, at:

I look forward to receiving answers to the questions I have asked above. 

best wishes

James Ricketson 

As will be revealed in my documentary CHANTI'S WORLD, Chhork - seen here with Poppy and Kevin - is a shy, gentle and very loving  father who does not drink or gamble and grieves every day for the loss of his daughters.

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