Sunday, February 16, 2014

# 3 My third attempt to get some answers from the Global Development Group re Citipointe church

Chhork, Chanti and their kids at Chhork's sister's wedding. Chhork's father, in the grey shirt, is the Village Chief. He was not consulted by Citipointe church before Rosa and Chita were removed from the family in 2008 and has never once been consulted by Citipointe church this past five years.

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

13th Feb 2014

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

Since my letter of yesterday, Samantha Major has informed me that Peta Thomas is currently on assignment in Indonesia and that:

“The Executive Director will be back in the office on 24th February and will respond to your emails.”

Given the seriousness of the allegations I have made, I am more than a little surprised that the GDG believes this is a matter that can be left unattended to for the next 11 days – especially since we live in a digitally connected world in which a simple question can be asked from any part of the globe and transmitted within seconds to any other part of the globe. The question that needs to be asked by GDG is this:

"Mr James Ricketson, an Australian filmmaker, alleges that Citipointe church's "SHE Rescue Home' had no legal right to remove Rosa and Chita from their family home in 2008 and detain them for the last five years contrary to the express wishes of their parents – Chanti and Chhork. Could you please supply the Global Development Group with whatever documents (agreements and/or contracts) that the 'SHE Rescue Home' has entered into with any Cambodian government department in the relation to the custody of Rosa and Chita. Could you please also supply copies of these documents to the parents - Chanti and Chhork?"

This paragraph took one minute to write. A variation of it could be written by someone within the Global Development Group with the authority to ask such questions in less than five minutes. Peta Thomas could write such an email from Indonesia today if she has been, to date, unaware of the five year battle Chanti and Chhork have been engaged in with the church. Indeed, if the church has lied to Peta or kept secret from her the five year long battle Citipointe has been engaged in to deny Chanti and Chhork the right to bring up their daughters, she will almost certainly be very angry and keen for the truth to see the light of day as quickly as possible. Given the seriousness of the allegations  and her own potential complicity in the illegal detention of the girls, I am sure she could find five minutes to do so to write an email.  If Peta has no five minutes to spare, or if it is inappropriate for her to be involved in thus matter further, surely there must be someone within the GDG that does have five minutes to spare and the authority to  ask such a question?

The same applies, in terms of speed, at the Citipointe end of the communication process. If the church has the relevant documents these could be scanned, attached to an email and sent to the GDG in a matter of minutes. The whole operation need not take more than an hour or one day maximum. There is no reason why the GDG could not be in possession of copies of such documents by the end of business on Friday afternoon.

Rosa and Chita at Citipointe singalong and prayer meeting in July 2008

If the allegations contained in my emails and letter are unfounded, Citipointe can prove them to be so by the end of the week (tomorrow), just as my allegations could have proved to be unfounded at any point in the last five years.

GDG has declared its commitment to transparency and accountability and its adherence to the ACFID code of conduct. If Citipointe is not adhering to the ACFID code of conduct this reflects badly on the GDG and I would have though that the GDG would want this matter cleared up as quickly as possible.  Not in 11 days! 

This matter could either be put to rest in the next 24 hours by the revelation that Citipointe had a legal right to remove Rosa and Chita and detain them. Or, if Citipointe cannot or refuses to produce such documents, the GDG can (and I imagine will) initiate an investigation into how it is that Citipointe’s illegal actions escaped the scrutiny of the GDG monitoring and assessment process.

My filming this day reveals Rosa and Chita being taught how to pray.

That Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ receives funding from the GDG only came to my attention a few days ago. This is a game changer because, whilst Citipointe can refuse to supply Chanti and Chhork, SISHA, LICADHO or myself with copies of the relevant documents and get away with it, it is hard to see how the church could refuse to supply a funding partner (the GDG) with copies – if, that is, the GDG asks for them.

The scenario presented to me by Samantha Major is one in which, it seems, Peta Thomas will not be able to attend to this matter until she returns from Indonesia. Is she expected back in days, weeks or months? Given that Peta was in charge of assessing and monitoring the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ is it appropriate that she have any involvement at all in any investigation of my allegations?

The children are rewarded for their praying with food parcels

The problem with waiting for the return of the Executive Director is this: To date there has been nothing at stake for Citipointe. The church has been able to break Cambodian law with impunity, knowing full well that there is no Cambodian body that will hold the church accountable. For some years now Citipointe has been in receipt of funds from the GDG but these would, I presume, cease to flow into the church’s coffers if it turns out that the allegations I have made are true. This would put quite a dent in the church’s revenue stream and Citipointe could, if it so desired in the 11 days before the Executive Director looks at the matter, arrange for the production of an appropriately dated document that turns out to be the ‘contract’ that Chanti, Chhork and I have been asking to be provided a copy of for five years.

It is from this group of children and their parents that Citipointe recruited some of its first 'victims of human trafficking'.

The July 31st 2008 ‘contract’ is a fraud, as GDG’s lawyers will discover the moment they look at it. Citipointe has form when it comes to phony ‘contracts’ and, with its cash flow from GDG under threat, and this being Cambodia, the church may see some value in doing what it takes to bring the missing ‘contract;’ into being. Remember, this is the NGO that threatened to have me arrested, jailed and banned from coming to Cambodia ever again if I did not cease advocating in my blog on Chanti and Chhork’s behalf!

The parents were rewarded with food also and then offered help by Citipointe church.

Ask Citipointe to produce the contracts and/or agreements by the end of the week and the manufacturing of documents as fraudulent as the 31st July 2008 ‘contract’ will be not be easy within a 24 hour time span – not even in Cambodia!

best wishes

James Ricketson

A few months after Citipointe had tricked Chanti into putting her thumb print on a document she could not read and whose contents were misrepresented to her (31st July 2008), the church gave Chanti and Chhork this photo - leaving them in no doubt that their daughter was, from here on in, to be brought up as a Christian, not a Buddhist. In five years, Rosa and Chita have not been allowed to join their parents, siblings or extended family in any Buddhist ceremonies, celebrations or holidays.

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