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The NORAD Report on NCA Sexual Abuse of Akha Women Allegations in Laos 2006

Investigation of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse of Akha girls and women by Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) in Laos

The information below comes from Norad and there are many points which we disagree with. We feel every effort is being made to say that while a lot of sex was going on with underage girls, NCA staff did not sexually abuse any girls.

From Norad:
At the 5th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2006, serious accusations were made that staff from NCA and Action Contre Faim (ACF) “make sexual abuse of Akha girls and women. Such allegations are also found at the homepages of The Akha Heritage Foundation and The United World of the Indigenous People.

Based on these accusations Norad commissioned an independent investigation in consultation with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NCA.

The purpose of the study was to get a factual grip of the allegations and to uncover any possible sexual misconduct and/or abuse or attempts of abuse of Akha girls and women.

The investigation was carried out by Ms. Kristin Ingebrigtsen from Save the Children Norway, Emergency Standby Force together with Dr Chris Lyttleton from Macquaire University in Australia. The team also included three translators – two women and one man.

Efforts were made to make the investigations as independent as possible – from NCA, donors and from those who raised the accusations.

The main findings in the report are that no evidence of sexual misconduct or abuse was found, but that it is possible that occasion sexual relations have taken place between staff employed or affiliated with NCA. The report relates the main findings to a complex social structure, cultural traditions and various relations concering power amongst the Akha in Muang Long.

As part of the investigation the consultants were asked to provide recommendations on follow up for NCA. The report stresses that effort is needed to make the Code of Conduct known and internalised amongst staff seconded from the authorities, and there is a need to promote the implications of Convention on the Rights of the Child among Lao programme staff and the Akha in the 26 villages included in the programme.

The report also recommend that the Rights-Based Approach needs to be better incorporated.

NCA and Norad has a close dialog on the follow-up on the recommendations. The dialog has a particular focus on awareness of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Code of Conduct among the employees and in NCA programmes and the Rights-Based Approach.

All though the report neither can confirm or invalidate that abuse has taken place it is important for Norad that suspicions of abuses are raised and investigated.

We value that Norad and MFA is made aware of situations and programs related to development cooperation where abuses actually might occur.

The attention on suspicions of abuse, and the open dialog that has taken place among MFA/Nora and NCA during the investigations should lead to necessary emphasised focus on this topic – not only in northern Laos but also in other development programmes where vulnerable groups are involved. In a broader context the follow-up of the investigation should lead to more attention on the issue of abuse within development cooperation and measures to prevent abuse of any kind.
End of Norad Statement.

Copyright 1991 - 2006 The Akha Heritage Foundation