Interviews with Kim Ives and Brian Concannon on the NGO and charity sexual abuse revelations
Introduction by Roger Annis, Feb 27, 2018
Two leading advocates for justice and national sovereignty for Haiti have spoken out about the deeper issues revealed by the sexual abuse scandal overwhelming OXFAM and its conduct in Haiti. Kim Ives is an editor of the Haitian weekly newspaper Haiti Liberté; Brian Concannon is the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, with offices in Port au Prince, Haiti and Boston, USA. The weblinks to both interviews are below.
Some of the world’s largest NGOs and charities are being rocked by similar revelelations not only in Haiti but around the world. Several days ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross has confessed that fully 21 of its staff people have quietly resigned since 2015 following revelations of sexual abuse. Western media refers to sexual abuse and assault as “misconduct” when it involves politicians, charities or NGOs from Western countries.
The interview with Kim Ives, in particular, explains how the large NGOs have played a key role in the imperialist intervention into Haiti. They have supplanted the role of a sovereign Haiti government concerning the planning and provision of social and economic policies. They went so far as to support or turn a blind eye to a paramilitary coup backed by Western governments against Haiti’s elected president, legislature and senate in February 2004.
It is the responsibility of national governments, not NGOs and charities, to provide and implement national and social development policies. But imperialist governments are in the business of blocking national and social development policies in countries in the Global South in order to advance the interests of Western business elites. As part of those Western elites, the owners of mainstream media prevent effective reporting of why countries that are materially poor and underdeveloped find themselves in that position.
The entirety of Western media completed a transformation following the 2004 coup in Haiti to become lapdogs of corporate power. A parallel decline took place among the mainstream NGOs active in Haiti. They presented Haiti as a ‘failed’ country lacking respect or interest in democracy. Haiti–the first and only country to successfully overthrow slavery during its long, national revolution of 1791-1804–was presented as a country with a ‘culture’ of lack of respect or understanding of democracy. The president who was overthrown in 2004–Jean-Bertrand Aristide–was falsely presented in this light, as a tyrant with no genuine interest in his people.
For the story of Haiti’s long, revolutionary-democratic history, see:
* Haiti’s humanitarian crisis: Rooted in history of military coups and occupations, by Kim Ives and Roger Annis, May 2011 (with Kim Ives)
* Haiti’s promised rebuilding unrealized as Haitians challenge authoritarian rule, by Roger Annis and Travis Ross, January 2015
Roger Annis was a longtime editor of the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network, founded in 2004. The website is now called the Canada Haiti Information Project. The website contains a vast archive of articles and documents on the history and current politics of Haiti. He has written extensively on Haiti and traveled twice to the country on reporting missions–in 2007 and 2011.
Excerpts from the interview with Kim Ives:
* I was speaking recently to a PhD doctor who has been working in Haiti for 30 years. He estimates that at least 50 per cent of the NGO workers and officials in Haiti engage in prostitution of this nature…
* Why is the country [Haiti] with the most NGOs per capita in the world one of the poorest on the quality of life index, while its neighbor, which has the lowest number of NGOs and the most controlled NGOs in the world, has the highest quality of life? I’m speaking about Cuba. We can really see a correlation between the presence of NGOs and the very difficult life quality. A lot of exploitative things happen. A lot of offensive things happen and I think people’s dignity are basically trampled when these NGOs come to town, along with the peacekeepers…
* I think the Haitian people are capable of self-determination. I think they can. They built a country 200 years ago in 1804. They created many institutions. They created industries, agriculture, but the arrival, especially, of the US Marines in 1915 really marked the beginning of a long descent of Haitian agriculture, and industry and culture even. We’re really almost at the nadir now, I believe. And what we’re experiencing with these NGOs who are in there supposedly to fill the void. If they were gone, if the peacekeepers were gone, if all the US and European oppressive presence was gone, I think Haiti would be fine.
Interview with Kim Ives on the scandal surrounding OXFAM’s sexual abuse in Haiti
(Kim Ives is the editor of the weekly newspaper Haiti Liberté. The text of the interview is available at the weblink, or click the screen immediately below.)
Interview with Brian Concannon on the scandal surrounding OXFAM’s sexual abuse in Haiti
(Click on the Al Jazeera screen at the weblink to listen to the interview. Brian Concannon is the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and in Boston, USA)
The Oxfam sex abuse scandal demonstrates the urgent need for legal accountability in the humanitarian aid sector, commentary by Sienna Merope-Synge, staff attorney, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Feb 22, 2018 (the article also appears in Al Jazeera)