Friday, May 23, 2014

(G) Competence of the ACFID Code of Conduct committee questioned

The Hon Julie Bishop
Minister for Foreign Affairs
House of Representatives, Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600                                                                          

12th May 2014

Dear Minister

re Competence of ACFID Code of Conduct committee?

Within a three day time frame, the Australian Council for International Development Code of Conduct committee corresponded with me twice – on 2nd May and 5th May. That the email and letter contradict each other will be evident from a reading with both. I will commence with the email I received on 5th May:
“We are following up on your complaint against the Global Development Group. The investigation team has completed its investigation of the complaint. The team has prepared a draft report to the parties which – as outlined in the Code of Conduct Implementation Guidance – I am now providing to both parties to the complaint to correct any matters of fact. I look forward to receiving your response within five working days of the date of this email. The investigative team will consider any responses received during that period when they finalise their report.”
There is no name attached to the sender of this email but one thing is abundantly clear – both GDG and myself had five days to respond to the email. Now consider the letter sent by Dr Sue-Anne Wallace on 2nd May – three days earlier!
Dear Mr Ricketson,

I refer to your letter date 30 April 2014 and its enclosure addressed to myself and members of the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee.

I have considered the matter you have raised. After consultation with other members of the Committee it has been determined that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the Code Committee. Here it is noted that Citipointe Church is not an ACFID member and that issues relating to legall custody of children are more appropriately dealt with by the Cambodian legal system where the children reside.

Finally, I note that the ACFID Code of Conduct complaints process is a confidential one based on the good faith of all the parties. For the record I note here that I am aware of your regular posts on a personal internet blog about this matter and a report in the Cambodian Daily dated 4 April 2014. The latter refers to unlawful activity by you in relation to this matter,

Yours faithfully,
Dr Sue-Anne Wallace
Chair, Code of Conduct Committee

Leaving aside the fact that I have never lodged a formal complaint against Citipointe, for reasons I have made abundantly clear in several leters, how can Dr Sue Anne Wallace tell me on 2nd May that the ACFID Code of Conduct committee has no jurisdiction to investigate and then, three days later, inform me that it has completed its investigation and invite me to respond to it within five days!?
There are many adjectives that could be applied to the inherent contradictions between the letter and email – none of them flattering. I will leave it to yourself, Minister, to figure out whether or not the Code of Conduct committee is competent to fulfill its tasks in accordance with the clearly laid out dictates of the ACFID Code of Conduct.
In my most recent letters to Dr Sue Anne Wallace I have pointed out in some detail the many ways in which the Code of Conduct committee is in breach of the Code in acting on the presumption that there is no link between GDG and Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’. Some more evidence, quoting from the Code, italics mine.
The Code sets out standards in the three areas of accountability:
Program Principles – including Obligations for effectiveness in aid and development activities, human rights and working with partner agencies.
Public engagement – including Obligations on the signatory organisation to be ethical and transparent in marketing, fundraising and reporting.
Organisation – including Obligations for governance, management, financial controls, treatment of staff and volunteers, complaints handling processes and compliance with legal requirements.
The Global Development Group, as a signatory to the Code, is obliged to be accountable in all the ways described here. And, as the members of the Code of Conduct committee should know, “the Principles and Obligations set out in the Code” are “contractually binding.”
In short, the Global Development Group’s degree of contractual responsibility vis a vis the ACFID Code for the actions of its partner, Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ is indisputable. The Global Development Group is in breach of the Code. How is it that the Code of Conduct committee can pretend otherwise?
At the outset my intention was merely to get Chanti and Chhork’s daughters returned to their care – an objective I have been pursuing for more than five years. However, Ms Sam Mostyn’s refusal to answer any questions over a period of months, combined with the Code of Conduct committee’s clumsy attempts to absolve the Global Development group of any responsibility, make me wonder whether there are, in reality, any checks and balances at all when it comes to the distribution of AusAID approved funds? If the ACFID Code of Conduct committee can go to such lengths to protect the Global Development Group, what else is going on within what used to be known as AusAID that you as Minister don’t know about but should be aware of?
I have just arrived back in Phnom Penh to discover that Chanti and Chhork – the parents of the two girls illegally detained by the ‘SHE Rescue Home’ - have bought a second tuk tuk. This is so that whilst Chhork earns a living with tuk tuk # 1, Chanti can ferry Srey Ka, James and Kevin to and from school in tuk tuk # 2. Chanti has also asked me if I could help she and Chhork in finding a good school within Phnom Penh for Rosa and Chita to attend. The school that Srey Ka, James and Kevin are attending is good but it is limited in terms of the subjects it teaches.
Chanti and Chhork want Rosa and Chita to get the best possible education and do not believe this can be achieved within reasonable driving distance of the village in which they live. I agree with them and to this end am now looking for a school in Phnom Penh where Rosa and Chita can board during the week and go home at the weekends. I have found one but have yet to check to see if it is suitable. Paradoxically, the boarding option we are now exploring will, if we are successful, result in precisely the same scenario that Pastor Leigh Ramsey offered in 2008 and then reneged on a few weeks later when she got Chanti to sign the fraudulent 31st July 2008 ‘contract’.
I have asked the following question many times now, but received no answer from Marc Purcell, Ms Sam Mostyn or Dr Sue-Anne Wallace and the ACFID Code of Conduct committee:
“Do parents in the 3rd world whose children are removed by Australian NGOs (supposedly working in accordance with the ACFID Code of Conduct) have a right to be provided with documents relating to the legality of their children’s removal; a right to (a) be provided with copies of  MOUs, (b) be provided with reasons for their children’s removal, (c) be provided with an avenue of appeal against the decision to remove, (d) to be informed as to their visitation rights, (e) be able to request that their children not be indoctrinated into a branch of the Christian faith, and (f) of what they must do to get their children back?”

The lack of response to these questions on the part of the President of ACFID, the Chief Executive of ACFID and the Chair of the Code of Conduct committee makes it clear, despite the Code, that the recipients of AusAID funding or AusAID-approved funding (in the case of the Global Development Group) have no rights at all and are ripe to be exploited by unscrupulous NGOs such as Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’.
best wishes
James Ricketson
Ms Sam Mosatyn, President, ACFID
Marc Purcell, Chief Executive, ACFID
Dr Sue-Anne Wallace, Chair, ACFID Code of Conduct committee
Ms Alison Burrow, Australia’s Ambassador to Cambodia
Various media outlets

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