New Measures to Tackle Exploitation and Abuse (2)

Dutch NGOs have launched a Joint Integrity Plan in response to public concern over recent cases of abuse in the humanitarian sector – but how does the plan work in practice? We talk to Caroline Scheffer from Save The Children reveals more in the second part of our interview

How are these plans for new screening procedures similar to the ‘humanitarian passport’ which was discussed shortly after the Haiti scandal broke?
The ‘humanitarian passport’ took on a life of its own without any definition of what it exactly was. The humanitarian passport is basically nothing more than a clearance that indicates if you have no integrity issues in your personnel files or any accusation of abuse on your criminal record. The screening policies we have proposed will automatically result in the same outcome. Whether an individual is able to submit a document or some other form of certificate is of less importance than the outcome itself.

The processes you call for will see you collect very sensitive information about a large number of people. Will this information be stored in the form of a ‘blacklist’?
We cannot yet provide a definite answer to that question – but it is possible. We are currently researching the different options. A centralised blacklist certainly has its advantages – we won’t need to register that many people and we’ll work with a smaller volume of sensitive information. That will result in cheaper and more structured administration.

The downside of any blacklist is that it will contain confidential information which could have severe personal consequences. This can be justified in part because any blacklist will exist to address serious integrity problems. Yet the potential consequences for the people on the blacklist will have to be taken into account in each individual case – and whether those consequences are aligned with the seriousness of the offences.

At the moment our focus is on the proposed screening policy, which we hope will be implemented in the protracted and emergency aid sectors – as well as other charity organisations – by the beginning of January 2019. We are also monitoring various international developments – but the Dutch screening policy is our main priority.

What next steps will you undertake?
With the support of the national Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice, we are investigating if it is possible to implement the sector-specific Certificate of Good Conduct within a few months.

We are also rolling out a roadmap to inform organisations what the next steps are and how they should undertake them. This roadmap offers practical steps organisations can take to implement the new policy. We expect the roadmap to be finished this autumn – and the roll out will be supported by workshops to ensure everyone is ready to work with it.

Text: Frank van Lierde, corporate journalist Cordaid/DRA
Photo: Save the Children