WWF to probe human rights violation during anti-poaching drives
The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) launched a probe into allegations of torture, sexual assault, and killings by its guards during anti-poaching operations in the forests of Asia and Africa.
An expose by Internet news portal Buzzfeed revealed organization's armed guards indulging in major human rights violations during conservation drives in six countries.
In a year-long investigation, a series of emails, interviews with victims family members, and legal documents found armed guards killed local residents in Nepal, and India. Investigators also documented a botched rifle deal in African countries.
In a statement issued on Wednesday WWF said: “We take any allegations seriously and are commissioning an independent review to look into the cases raised in the story.”
The Buzzfeed also found the conservation charity acting like a global “spymaster” beating, illegally confining and committing atrocities on indigenous communities residing inside or periphery of forest areas.
Serious charges against WWF come hot on the heels of last year's Oxfam sex abuse cases in Haiti. A series of rights violations has put international non-profit conservation work in developing countries under the scanner.
In a bid to ensure swift action into the issue, WWF maintained, “We have stringent policies designed to ensure both we and our partners are safeguarding the rights and well-being of indigenous people and local communities in the places we work.”
“Any breach of these policies is unacceptable to us and, should the review uncover any, we are committed to taking swift action.”
Several groups and rights organizations accused WWF top brass of inaction despite evidence of the crime committed by its staffs.
“It's known for years that the paramilitary units it [WWF] funds have beaten, tortured and killed, and its response is always the same – a smokescreen of meaningless promises of action, and then carry on as before,” Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, a tribal rights organization said.