Red Cross Society says no ‘sexual favours’

rapeIn a press release dated 20 October 2015, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) said it found “no credible evidence” that an official had solicited “sexual favours” from Tamil war widows in return for houses from an Indian government-funded project and that the organisation takes “any allegation of this nature extremely seriously and appropriate action was immediately taken to investigate the complaint”.

The release said: In early October, the SLRCS Kilinochchi Branch received a written complaint from a Red Cross beneficiary, that a SLRCS technical officer requested sexual favours in return for faster process of payments of a cash grant to rebuild her house. The woman in question had qualified for the grant under the Red Cross Post-Conflict Recovery Programme in Mulakavil, Kilinochchi. The programme is funded by the Indian Government.

The SLRCS and IFRC take any allegation of this nature extremely seriously and appropriate action was immediately taken to investigate the complaint.

The President of SLRCS launched an inquiry which was carried out by several members of SLRCS Governing Board who visited Kilinochchi. However, this initial inquiry proved inconclusive.

The President and the office of the IFRC in Sri Lanka then launched a second inquiry and appointed a five person panel which was comprised of men and women from the IFRC and from the SLRCS headquarters and branches. A representative from the Consulate General of India in Jaffna also joined the panel as an observer.

The panel began its inquiry on 11 October in Kilinochchi. They interviewed the beneficiary who made the complaint and 15 other people: including nine SLRCS staff members.

On 16 October, the panel sent its findings to the President of SLRCS.

In its conclusions, the panel found no credible evidence to support the complaint relating to misconduct on the part of the SLRCS technical officer. The panel did find that the allegations had an internal dimension which will be addressed in accordance with the constitution of the SLRCS.

The Red Cross believes that it is vitally important to ensure transparency in responding to such a complaint. Despite the fact that no evidence was found from the inquiry to support the allegation that was leveled, under the instructions of the President of SLRCS, the report and documents from the inquiry was handed over to the Ministry of Law & Order & Prison Reforms on 20th October 2015, in the event that they decide to take the matter further.

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