Friday, May 23, 2014

(B) letter to Ms Sam Mostyn, President, ACFID 6th May 2014

Ms Sam Mostyn
Australian Council for International Development  
12 Napier Close, Deakin ACT 2600                                                              

6th May 2014

Dear Ms Mostyn

Late yesterday afternoon I received, by email, a copy of the “ACFID Code of Conduct Inquiry into complaint made about Global Development Group (ACFID Reference C314)Report to the Parties on Facts.”
I wish to place the following on record:

(1) I have not made a formal complaint to ACFID regarding either Citipointe church or the Global Development Group.

(2) No attempt has been made by the Code of Conduct Committee Enquiry to speak with the parents of the girls whose removal from their family in 2008 has given rise to ACFID’S Inquiry – Chanti and Chhork – or to address the complaint they lodged with the committee 10 days ago.

(3) No reference is made in this “Report to the parties on Facts” to the most important fact of all – namely the MOUs that Citipointe and the Global Development Group claim gave the church the right to remove Rosa and Chita from their family in 2008 – an omission that speaks volumes of ACFID’S agenda in conducting this ‘investigation’.

Expanding on these points:

(1) As the well-documented record will show, I have repeatedly, in my letters to you and to Dr Sue-Anne Wallace and the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee, made it clear that I do not wish to participate in any enquiry in which the 2008 and 2009 MOUs are not entered as evidence pertaining to the legality of Citipointe’s removal of Rosa and Chita. Your own persistent refusal to call upon Citipointe and GDG to produce the MOUs, Dr Sue-Anne Wallace’s and the Code of Conduct’s refusal to take the MOUs into account, renders the whole idea of an investigation a farce. Either contracts exist between Citipointe and the relevant Cambodian ministries giving the church the right of removal or they do not. You know that the MOUs did not give Citipointe the rights the church has exercised, and so does Dr Sue-Anne Wallace and her Code of Conduct committee. Asking for copies of the MOUs would make it difficult (nay, impossible) to arrive at the conclusion that the committee has decided  in advance to arrive at – namely that there has been no breach of the ACFID Code of Conduct by either Citipointe or GDG. The refusal, at every level of ACFID, to ask for copies of the MOUs, renders you all complicit in the ongoing detention of Rosa and Chita contrary to the express wishes of their parents and in contravention of Cambodian law.

I acknowledge that ACFID has the right (indeed, the moral obligation) to initiate its own investigation into the illegal removal of girls from their families, as seems to be the case here. However, to initiate an investigation without calling the MOUs into evidence raises serious questions about the competence, impartiality and the integrity of ACFID’s investigative processes. How can any investigation into the legality of the church’s actions be made without reference to the MOUs? Lest there be any misunderstanding, I did not call for this Inquiry to occur and have played no role in it other than providing the committee with facts that it has chosen to ignore.

(2) In relation to Chanti and Chhork’s complaint it is worth quoting my letter of 24th April to Dr Sue-Anne Wallace and the Code of Conduct committee, in full:

Dear       Dr Sue-Anne Wallace
Greg Brown
John Gilmore
Bandula Gonsalkorale
Harwood Lockton
Dr Petrus Usmanij
Fadlullah Wilmot
Dr Simon Smith
Michelle Pearce
Julie Mundy

Last night I received an email from a friend of Chanti’s in Phnom Penh. Attached was a document which, Chanti told me in a phone conversation this mornng, is her request that ACFID investigate Citipointe church’s removal of her daughters in 2008.

I have yet to have this document translated but I have told Chanti that I do not want to be involved in her complaint. Indeed, I told her that she was wasting her time and building her hopes up, only to have them dashed yet again. Any investigation that excludes the MOUs, any investigation that does not require of Citipointe that the church prove that it had a legal right to remove Rosa and Chita in the first place, will be a sham.

Imagine an investigation in Australia that focused on contractual law, in which the prosecutor reserved the right not to call the actual contract in question into evidence! This would be seen, quite rightly, as corruption on the part of the prosecutor – guaranteeing that the accused be exonerated for lack of evidence of his or her breach of contract.

The sole function of any ACFID Code of Conduct committee investigation, in the absence of the MOUs, will be to provide Citipointe with a legal fig leaf, behind which it can hide. The church will then use the findings of your committee to fend off any further questions relating to the legality of its actions. You can be sure, also, that the church will use your findings to bolster any other vexatious legal actions it chooses to initiate in Cambodia.

In the meantime, Citipointe has taken its child-stealing, sould-saving scam to India. The church has recently acquired 100 ‘orphans’ in Goa – funded, no doubt, by the Global Development Group. That’s 100 new souls won over to Pentecostalism; 100 young girls to be used by the church to raise funds. How many of these girls are orphans? Any of them? Will the ACFID Code of Conduct committee ask Citipointe for evidence that these girls are in fact orphans? No. Not until or unless the parents of one of the girls makes a complaint. And how likely is this? Which of the parents of these young ‘orphans’ will even know of the existence of ACFID? And even if, by chance, they discovered that ACFID exists and they could make a complaint, they would be in for a rude shock and major disappointment when they discovered that the committee of which you are a part could and would do nothing to help them get back the daughters removed by Citipointe – no doubt with the approval of Indian government officials who have been paid to provide a patina of legality to the church’s actions.

Your committee is a disgrace, a waste of money and complicit in illegal activity of the kind that has led not just to Chanti and Chhork losing their daughters (along with other materially poor Cambodian parents) but, now, to up to 100 families  in India losing their daughters.

As far as I am concerned, as far as both my film and book CHANTI’S WORLD are concerned, you are each morally responsible for the breaches of law and human rights perpetrated by Citipointe church in both Cambodia and India.

Shame on you all.

It is to be hoped, though I will not hold my breath, that at some point in the future there will be an ICAC-style investigation into fraud within the aid industry and that your committee will be called upon to explain why you failed to ask Citpointe for documented proof of the legality of its actions in 3rd world countries.

Allowing two days for this letter to arrive at ACFID, the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee was in possession of it for around 10 days before providing me with report that makes no reference to it. Nor is any reference made to the translation I had made of Chanti and Chhork’s 22nd April complaint made. It reads:



Both Chhork and Yem Chanthy

Ponley village
Ba Paong commune
Peam Ror district
Prey Veng province

22nd April 2014

We, Both Chhork and Yem Chanti,  are the father and mother of two girls – Phoun Rosa and Phoun Thida.

Our daughters have been detained in Phnom Penh by Citipointe Church’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ since 31st July 2008.

We have not given our permission to Citipointe church to detain our daughters.

For five years we have been asking Pastor Leigh Ramsey at Citipointe church to return our daughters. Every time she says yes soon but keeps our daughters locked up.

For five years we have been asking Citipointe to give us copies of the MOUs the church says it has. Citipointe tells us these MOUs say that the church can take our daughters and keep them. We do not believe the church.

We have asked the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs to give us copies of the MOUs so that we can learn what is true and what things we must do to have Rosa and Chita returned to our family.

The Ministry of Social Affairs refuses to give us copies of the MOUs.

With great respect we want the Australian Council of International Affairs to tell Citipointe church to give us copies of the MOUs.

We have asked Mr James Ricketson to help us by making a complaint to the Australian Council of International Development.

                              Signed                                                          Signed

                              Both Chhork                                                 Yem Chanthy

To date, 6th May, no attempt has been made by the ACFID Code of Conduct committee to speak with Chanti and Chhork or to act on their complaint, despite my having provided the committee with their phone number.

Interestingly, the ACFID Code of Conduct committee has asked Geoff Armstrong if he is a member of Citipointe church but has not asked him to produce copies of the MOUs he claims the GDG has in its possession which gave Citipointe the legal right to remove and detain Rosa and Chita. Nor has the committee asked Mr Armstrong to produce the court documents revealing that Chanti and Chhork relinquished their parental rights and that the court awarded custody to Citipointe church. There was no court case – yet another instance in which Citipointe has broken Cambodian law.

It is difficult not to ponder why it is that the ACFID Code of Conduct committee has chosen to ignore Chanti and Chhork’s complaint; to go ahead with an ‘investigation’ without even consulting with the people who have the most to gain or lose as a result of such an investigation – Chanti and Chhork. I will leave it up to the audience for CHANTI’S WORLD and for readers of the book by the same title to arrive at their own conclusions regarding this question.

(3) As far as ACFID’S refusal to request of Citipointe and the Global Development Group that they produce the 2008 and 2009 MOUs, again, I will leave it up to my audience and readers to join the dots. Of relevance here also is what the Cambodian  Ministry of Social Affairs guidelines have to say on alternative care for children:

“The rights of parental authority over their children remain with the family (unless it's gone through the courts and the family relinquishes all responsibility).”

As ACFID knows, at every level, there was never a court case, the outcome of which being either (a) that Chanti and Chhork relinquished responsibility or (b) that the court awarded custody to the church. Such details are not, however, of any interest to your Code of Conduct committee as a fact such as this (and it is a demonstrably true fact) would make difficult the  outcome that ACFID has decided upon in relation to the legality of Citipointe’s removal of Rosa and Chita.

I finished my letter of yesterday to Pastor Leigh Ramsey (mistakenly dated 6th May) with the following:

“With such powerful allies in AusAID, ACFID etc, Citipointe will continue to win battle after battle in the ongoing efforts made by Chanti and Chhork (with my assistance) to get their daughters back. When CHANTI’S WORLD (both the film and the book) are released, however, it will become apparent that your corrupt church has lost the war.”

I am now pursuing the question of the MOUs through legal channels in Australia, hoping to achieve in this way what ACFID could, if it chose, achieve by simply picking up the phone – namely to acquire copies of the 2008 and 2009 MOUs. I could also acquire copies of the MOUs by paying more than Citpointe to the Ministry of Social Affairs than the church is paying NOT to make copies available to anyone. This would involve me in engaging in corrupt behavior of the kind that I have avoided this past five years. However, if the release of Chanti and Chhork’s daughters necessitates that I become as corrupt as Citipointe, perhaps that is the route I need to go down. I hope not.

Wearing my filmmaker’s hat, it matters not at all to me whether I am successful in acquiring copies of the MOUs. The very fact that I need to go to such ends to acquire the them will speak volumes for audiences and readers about the honesty, competence and integrity of ACFID – with a Code of Conduct committee that cherry picks the evidence required to achieve a pre-determined outcome. If this means pretending that the MOUs are of no significance, so be it.

Wearing my ‘Friend of the Family’ hat I hope that my film and book will make it impossible for Citipointe NOT to return to their family the girls it stole in 2008 - with the blessing and finances provided by the Global Development Group and now with the tacit approval of ACFID.

I have attached a photo taken by Pastor Leigh Ramsey’s daughter Becky. The comments speak volumes of Citipointe’s latest venture: the creation and exploitation of ‘orphans’ in India (Chenai, not Goa) – all financed, no doubt, by the Global Development Group – to increase the size of the ‘Citipointe family’. If any of the parents of these girls should ever hear of the existence of ACFID and make a complaint that their daughters have been stolen from them by Citipointe ACFID will, no doubt, conduct an investigation of the kind it is conducting here – one that does not involve speaking with the parents, one that does not involve requesting copies of documents from Citipointe relating to the legality of the removal of these 100 ‘orphans’; an investigtion that is designed, from its inception, to find no fault in the church or its financial backer, the Global Development Group.

Shame on all members of the Code of Conduct committee for conducting sham ‘investigations’ designed to provide cover for NGOs such as Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ and the Global Development Group. It is to be hoped that at some point in the future you will all be required, by an ICAC-style enquiry, to explain why it is that you never asked Citipointe or the Global Development Group for the 2008 and 20089 MOUs; why it is that you turned  a blind eye to the families of the 100 families of Indian ‘orphans’ being used, by Citipointe and the Global Development Group to raise money for their respective NGO’s and to save some souls for Jesus Christ in the process.

I am copying this to various members of the media. I do not expect them to do anything with this letter other, I trust, than to keep it on file. Citipointe, the Global Development Group and ACFID have undoubtedly won the battle as regards the illegal removal and detention of Rosa and Chita. Whether you all win the war remains to be seen.

The Fat Lady has not sung yet!

best wishes

James Ricketson

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