Global list of sex predators in the foreign aid sector to be launched

Programme hopes to bolster criminal record checks and improve chances of arrests

Harriet Agerholm
Wednesday 17 October 2018 10:26
Register follows a scandal about sexual abuse at Oxfam and Save the Children, with MPs concluding the crimes and poor behaviour had reached an 'epidemic' level
Register follows a scandal about sexual abuse at Oxfam and Save the Children, with MPs concluding the crimes and poor behaviour had reached an 'epidemic' level

Britain is to kickstart a new global register of sex offenders that aims to crack down on harassment and abuse in the aid sector.

The Department for International Development (Dfid) will work with Interpol and the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Criminal Records Office (Acro) on the five-year project, which is set to be announced by Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary.

It follows a scandal about sexual predators working for Oxfam and Save the Children, with MPs concluding abuse in the aid sector had reached “epidemic” levels.

Ms Mordaunt said £2m of British aid money will be spent launching the register, which was part of a “concerted global effort” to tackle the issue.

Ms Mordaunt told The Times: “The most shocking thing (about the Oxfam scandal) was the inadequacy of that organisation’s response – the utter lack of moral compass as to what the right course of action was towards the victims and in allowing someone who shouldn’t have been in a position of authority to transfer to other organisations.

”The attitude and the culture set by the leaders of that organisation at the time demanded a big response and that response had to be wider than one organisation because this is a global problem. What you saw in Haiti was a complete abuse of power and that cannot happen again.“

The pilot scheme will harness Interpol’s green-notice system, which issues international alerts over those “considered to be a threat to public safety”.

Dfid hopes the project will stop abuse by both preventing high-risk suspects from being hired and increasing the chances of them being arrested.

The programme will raise awareness, toughen criminal record checks across the sector internationally, and improve information-sharing between law enforcement agencies.

The first year of the £10m project will focus on testing an online platform that will build on existing Interpol systems.

Oxfam's head of safeguarding: In one instance 'a woman had been coerced to have sex in exchange for aid'

It is also hoped the programme will set up a team of up to nine specialists and investigators to work in Africa and Asia to support to national criminal bureaus in high-risk countries.

Aid organisations will be able to request checks on potential employees that will delve into national criminal records and Interpol criminal databases.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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