Momentum to rid the Aid sector of predatory abusers is continuing to rise.
On Friday, Griffin Law’s pro-bono efforts to highlight and eradicate monstrous acts of sexual exploitation, abuse and child rape in the global aid sector, were recognised at the Legal Week Innovation Awards.
Griffin Law has been providing pro-bono support to child protection charity, Hear Their Cries, and has set up an innovative ‘Ethical Litigation Practice’ to encourage positive social change through judicious use of activist litigation. The law firm is behind the strong movement to link the Child Sex Tourism Laws, aimed at predatory paedophiles who choose to go to tourist resorts, typically in Asia with the aid industry, not just tourism.
“While the National Crime Agency continues to warn that the scale of paedophilia in the aid industry is on the same scale as international sex tourism, we are yet to see a prosecution of an aid worker for child sex offences,” says Griffin Law’s Chairman, Andrew MacLeod.
“Further, there is no trustee or CEO in the aid industry who does not know, or ought to know, that predatory paedophiles and sexual abuse is a problem in the industry. It is time these trustees and CEOs are also brought to account in front of the criminal law for failing to prevent these crimes”, MacLeod says.
Child Sex Tourism law is an unusual law in that it has ‘extra-territorial impact’. It applies regardless of where in the world the crime takes place. While a British person who rapes an adult in a foreign country cannot be held to account in Britain, a British person who rapes a child in a foreign country can still be held to account in Britain.
Since the Oxfam Scandal, more and more people are becoming aware of the general problem of sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid industry, and particularly the shocking awareness that some predatory paedophiles now seek out the aid industry to deliberately get access to children.
But Griffin Law know that this issue well predates Oxfam and goes back to at least the ‘Whistle-blower scandal’ in Bosnia in the mid 1990’s and the 2004 “Food for sex scandal”.
The United Nations Secretary General in March 2017 reported that in just one year, peace keepers of the United Nations had committed 145 offences of sexual exploitation and abuse against 311 victims. Later in 2017, The Secretary General admitted that despite the shocking scale of abuse by peacekeepers, the problem is actually bigger in the civilian agencies of the UN.
As shocking as this is, the statistics only account for reported incidences, and rape and sexual exploitation remain massively under reported crimes.
“This year, we hope to seek funding for a team of experts to survey beneficiary groups in countries where the aid industry is working, to try and get a sense of the scale of the under reported problem. We know the current data is the tip of the iceberg, but we don’t know how big the iceberg is”, MacLeod says.
Griffin Law won The Future of Legal Services Innovation – Private Practice (mid-sized practice) Award this week in recognition of its broad ‘ethical litigation’ practice, including its efforts in supporting Hear Their Cries. The firm were up against four worthy competitors and proud to have been nominated for such a high standing award.
Now in its fourth year, The Legal Week Innovation Awards celebrate precedent-setting, game-changing projects and initiatives in the legal sector. Leading and aspiring law firms from across the UK, congregate at the London based awards ceremony to revel in the success of one another. The winners are selected by a panel of independent experts, led by the editor of Legal Week magazine.
“What an honour it is to win the award, but more importantly, how great for the legal sector to recognise the significance of invoking change at the deepest, darkest corners of the globe”, MacLeod says.
“We will keep working with Hear Their Cries (http://www.heartheircries.org/) and remain committed to step up and protect some of the most vulnerable and defenceless victims in the world.”
“Child rape is not just an aid problem, it is everyone’s problem.”