Tuesday, July 15, 2014

to Ms Sam Mostyn, 14th July 2014

Ms Sam Mostyn
Australian Council for International Development                          

14th July. 2014

Dear Ms Mostyn

Thank you for your letter of 7th July. It has been a long time coming! It is a pity that it has been written by spin doctors ( Chris Adams? Marc Purcell?) and not by someone within ACFID with a commitment to facts and truth. Such is the world we now live in!

I am currently in Cambodia and not in a position to respond in full to the letter you have signed, clearly still ignorant of the facts of the matter and apparently not interested in acquainting yourself with them. I will respond in due course and in some detail as I am committed to respecting both facts and the truth.

In the interests if transparency I have published your letter online at:


A few brief points are in order right now, however:

On 19th Feb, I wrote the following to you:

“I am placing this on record and publishing my correspondence online because experience has taught me that this is the only way to avoid confusion further down the track when a different version of what has occurred can be used to obfuscate.  As I have mentioned already, I am both making a film and writing a book entitled CHANTI’S WORLD and it is imperative that my facts be 100% correct and not open to challenge by those who may have a vested interest in obfuscation.”

Your letter is little but obfuscation.

In this same letter I went on to ask a question to which I have not yet received an answer from either yourself, Dr Sue Ann Wallace or one of your resident spin doctors, despite my having asked variations of it at least half a dozen times:

“…would it be possible, within the ACFID charter, for you or the relevant person within ACFID to request of Citipointe, today, that the church provide you with copies of all the relevant documents that speak to the question of the legality of Citipointe’s actions in removing Rosa and Chita in 2008?

If it is possible for ACFID to ask this question, could ACFID also request that Citipointe provide Chanti and Chhork with copies of these documents. They have been requesting them for five years, as have I as their legally appointed advocate. I am working on the presumption that ACFID believes that the parents of children removed from their care by an Australian NGO have a right to know (a) why they were removed and (b) in accordance with what legal processes they were removed – given that the removal was contrary to the express wishes of the parents and an abrogation of the verbal agreement made with both them and myself in July 2008.”

Clearly, Ms Mostyn, you do not believe that the materially poor parents of children removed from their families in 3rd world countries have such rights.

Why do you refuse to answer these two simple questions Ms Mostyn? Do the supposed beneficiaries of aid that derives from a AusAID approved funds (Rosa and Chita, in this case) have any rights at all? The Global Development Group is, after all, a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct is!

The lack of oversight o  the part of ACFID leaves unscrupulous NGOs such as Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ (funded by the Global Development Group) free to remove children from their families, under no obligation at all to demonstrate that they have acted in accordance with Cambodian law or the ACFID Code of Conduct.

As for the Global Development Group’s monitoring and assessment processes, there are none. GDG is essentially a bank that funnels money to any NGO prepared to accept that GDG takes a 5% cut. (More of this later). Geoff Armstrong and the GDG BHoard have totally ignored the request made to it by Chanti and Chhork to be provided with copies of the MOUs they have been asking for for five years on 23rd May. See:


Should Chanti and Chhork now make a formal complaint to ACFID? Is there any point, given that your letter reveals a lack of interest in even ACFID adhering to its own Code of Conduct? The contempt you show, Ms Mostyn, for the legal and human rights of Chanti, Chhork, Rosa and Chita is astounding. Not just you, of course. Dr Sue Anne Wallace, the Code of Conduct Committee and the Executive Committee.

On 25th  Feb. 2014 I wrote the following to you:

Dear Ms Mostyn

Geoff Armstrong’s letter to me of 24th Feb makes it apparent that the Global Development Group is in possession of the documents that Citipointe believes has given the church the right to retain custody of Rosa and Chita this past five years against the express wishes of their parents – Chanti and Chhork.

Chanti and Chhork and I, as their advocate, have been asking to be provided with copies of these documents for five years. Both Citipointe and the Ministry of Social Affairs have refused to provide them. Now we know that GDG has copies; that the Global Development Group is satisfied that the docments do, indeed, give Citipointe the right to act they have.

I have asked Geoff Armstrong, in my letter of earlier in the day,  to provide Chanti and Chhork with copies of these contracts or agreements. The dismissive tone of Geoff’s letter to me, his total lack of interest in having any representative of GDG meet and speak with Chanti and Chhork,  suggests that he will not do so. I would be delighted to be proven wrong in this. Perhaps Geoff will, upon reflection, realize that of course Chanti and Chhork have a right to their own copies of these documents!

In the event that Geoff Armstrong, on behalf the Global Development Group, does not believe that the parents of children removed by Citipointe church have a right to be provided with such documents, the question then is:

“Does the Australian Council for International Development believe that parents whose children have been removed by an NGO have a right to be given copies of any agreements of contracts the NGO, funded by Australian tax-deductible dollars, has entered into with a government department in the country in which such a removal has occurred?”

This question is not specifically related to Chanti and Chhork but is a general one. It goes to the heart of ACFID’s Code of Conduct and has relevance to every recipient of aid from an Australian-based NGO that has signed on to the ACFID Code of Conduct? Could you please provide me with an answer to this question?

Whilst the question is a general one, it is relevant to whether or not Chanti and Chhork decide to go ahead and make a formal complaint to ACFID. If ACFID does not request of the Global Development Group that it provide copies of the documents GDG has in its possession, how can ACFID make an informed and independent decision regarding the legality or otherwise of Citipointe church’s actions in 2008? How can ACFID ever make an informed and decision regarding the legality of any NGO actions anywhere in the world if the NGO is under no obligation to provide evidence of the legality of its actions? 

Why will you not answer such simple questions as these? Why will Dr. Sue Ann Wallace not answer such simple questions as these? Why does ACFID maintain such an undignified silence re the matter of the 2008 and 2009 MOUs? Your own and ACFID’S implied contempt for the human rights for Chanti, Chhork, Rosa and Chita is disturbing in light of the role ACFID is supposed to play in monitoring Australian-based NGOs disbursing tax-deductible Australian dollars to, in theory, assist the poor and powerless in Cambodia.

I will respond to your letter in full when time permits. When I do, I would appreciate it if the response to it (should any response be forthcoming) not be written by a spin doctor but by yourself.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Saturday, July 12, 2014

letter from Ms Sam Mostyn, President, ACFID

I have finally received a response of sorts from Ms Sam Mostyn.

It is clear from her letter that Ms Mostyn does not believe that Chanti and Chhork have any right to be provided with copies of 2008 and 2009 MOUs by Citipointe or the Global Development Group regarding the legality of the church’s removal and detention of the girls.

As Ms Mostyn knows full well, I have never lodged a formal complaint with ACFID and so am not bound by the ACFID ‘code of confidentiality’

I am currently in Cambodia trying to help Chanti and Chhork, Rosa and Chita adjust to the new set of circumstances resulting from Citipointe simply dumping the girls back with their family with no warning, no reintegration process and with nut a bag of rice and two second hand bicycles.

Ms Mostyn’s letter, apparently written by Marc Purcell or Chris Adams, is full of inaccuracies and evasions – which I will address in a subsequent blog.

Dear Mr. Ricketson,

I am writing on behalf of ACFID’s Executive Committee in response to your email of 12 June 2014 and your open letter published on your blog. 

I also refer you to previous correspondence from ACFID’s Executive Director, Mr. Marc Purcell (who is authorised to act on behalf of the Executive Committee including myself); specifically correspondence dated 7 March 2014, 8 March 2014, 11 March 2014 and 2 April 2014.

Both the ACFID Executive and the ACFID Code of Conduct Committee (CCC) take the matters that you have raised in your correspondence with ACFID since February this year very seriously.

A key purpose of ACFID is to equip and encourage members to observe the highest ethical standards in all their activities, including strict observance of the ACFID Code of Conduct. The Code itself only applies to signatory organisations. These are the organisations that publicly commit to upholding the principles and obligations outlined in the Code and they can be held accountable to these.

However, many signatory organisations work with and through partners to deliver their program. The ACFID Code requires signatory organisations to use all reasonable efforts to ensure that partners deliver the Code signatory’s program in a manner consistent with the Code of Conduct.

As you are aware, the CCC (the independent body charged with overseeing the Code that is responsible for Code complaints handling) initiated investigations into complaints against two organisations that you lodged with ACFID’s Executive Director on 8 March. The CCC will only consider complaints relating to breaches of the ACFID Code of Conduct by Code signatory organisations and only where the Code Complaints handling process is the most appropriate way to handle the matter (See E.3 ACFID Code of Conduct Complaints Handling, on our website www.acfid.asn.au)

The complaints handling processes are not court processes or a tribunal. The rules of evidence do not apply. However our members take their commitment to the Code seriously and the complaints handling process forms part of the binding obligations of the Code (Section E.3.1). Members are required to comply with requests from the CCC for information within reasonable time limits (Section E.3.1.2) and they have been cooperative in providing detailed information in these particular cases.

The CCC is constituted independently of the ACFID Council and Executive and its investigations and deliberations are conducted separately and confidentially. However, the CCC is permitted under its Terms of Reference and the Code of Conduct Implementation Guidance (Section E.3.1) to provide additional information and involve other levels of governance within ACFID (guided by the Precautionary Principle).

Due to the public manner with which you have conducted your communication regarding these issues, the CCC has advised me of the outcome of the complaint investigations referred to above and the CCC’s own inquiry referred to below.

I understand that you chose not to cooperate with the CCC’s investigation into those complaints and that you were not a party to the CCC’s own inquiry (outlined below). Nevertheless, I am choosing to provide the following information to you in the interests of transparency and accountability and in light of the seriousness with which concerns regarding child protection are dealt with by ACFID.

Please note that both the information in this letter in regard to the investigations of the complaints that you lodged with ACFID and the result of the CCC’s own inquiry, are subject to the confidentiality and privacy provisions of ACFID’s complaints handling process. I ask that you respect these provisions.

The CCC has determined that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with an investigation into one of your complaints and that no breach had occurred in regard to your other complaint. In regard to the latter, the CCC noted that our member organisation dealt with your queries in what it considered to be a thorough, reasonable and timely manner and that no breach had occurred in regard to Code Section D.2.4 Conflict of Interest .

The CCC may initiate inquiries into areas of signatories’ practice which may have an impact on the wider aid and development sector but which does not fall within the scope of the Code of Conduct; and further, they may initiate inquiries into potential breaches of the Code in the absence of a formal complaint.

While ACFID requested you pursue the matter you raised formally through Code of Conduct complaints process, I acknowledge your choice not to. However, due to the serious nature of your concerns, the CCC has conducted an inquiry into matters raised in your correspondence since February.

This inquiry has been completed and the CCC determined that no breach had occurred in relation to the relevant obligations in the ACFID Code of Conduct, including relationships with partners, child protection and the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people.

In making this determination, the Committee noted our member organisation has used all reasonable efforts to determine the legal basis for actions taken by its partner, that these actions were taken with the requisite approval of relevant authorities in Cambodia and that any remaining legal issues could only be resolved through judicial and/or administrative means in Cambodia rather than through an alternative dispute resolution mechanism such as the ACFID Code of Conduct complaints handling process.
Speaking on behalf of the Executive Committee, I am satisfied that the CCC has investigated these matters in accordance with its mandate and with due regard to the seriousness of the issues and the best interests of the children involved. I am also pleased to note that the children have –with the required approval of the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSAVY) now been reintegrated with their family.

Finally, ACFID recognises that there are systemic issues with orphanages in Cambodia and I thank you for bringing these to ACFID’s attention. ACFID is currently examining ways to address these issues in cooperation with relevant agencies in Australia and Cambodia.

As explained in Mr. Purcell’s letter to you of 7 March 2014, ACFID’s primary contribution to improving child protection in developing countries is through setting standards, monitoring compliance with those standards, addressing complaints in relation to compliance with those standards and building the capacity of Code signatory organisations to meet those standards in context specific ways. These child protection standards, which apply to all Code signatory organisations regardless of where they work, are reviewed and where necessary revised on a regular basis; in part informed by issues that emerge through ACFID’s complaints handling process.

ACFID also works with DFAT to improve child protection in the delivery of Australia’s aid program, including through contributing to the development and socialisation of DFAT’s child protection guidelines and facilitating DFAT-led training with our member agencies.

I hope you can see from this information that from the first point in time in February 2014 when you contacted us to raise your concerns ACFID has engaged comprehensively with the serious issues you raise according to our powers. I believe we have made all efforts we can to ascertain the situation and that we have taken the best interests of the children as the paramount consideration. I thank you for bringing this serious matter to our attention.

Yours sincerely

Sam Mostyn President 

7 July 2014