Diana-backed landmine charity embroiled in sex scandal

Princess Diana worked with landmine charity Mines Advisory Group, which has been dragged into a wider sex scandal. (AFP file)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Diana-backed landmine charity embroiled in sex scandal

LONDON: The landmine charity backed by Princess Diana was on Sunday dragged into the sector-wide sex scandal after apologizing for not properly investigating claims its staff paid prostitutes.
British-based Mines Advisory Group (Mag) admitted it had ignored allegations about the "habitual use" of prostitutes by aid workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
"In relation to generic allegations of habitual use of prostitutes by Mag staff in DRC it would seem these were not sufficiently followed up at the time as they should have been and we are very sorry about this," it said in a statement late Saturday.
A whistleblower at the charity said they had regularly witnessed members of staff with prostitutes and had told managers in the capital Kinshasa three times between 2011 and 2013.
Diana was the public champion of landmine charities and worked with Mag shortly before her death in a Paris car crash in 1997.
The claims come as part of a wider sex scandal in the charity sector, triggered by allegations that Oxfam staff exploited Haitians after a devastating 2010 earthquake.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday more than 20 staffers have left the organization since 2015 after "paying for sexual services."
Meanwhile, UNICEF's Deputy Director Justin Forsyth also resigned following complaints of inappropriate behavior towards female staff in his previous post as head of British charity Save The Children.


Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

In this file photo taken on August 5, 2016, Andy Chan (R), leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), gives a press conference at the start of a rally near the government's headquarters in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Hong Kong bans pro-independence party

  • The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover

HONG KONG: Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday took an unprecedented step against separatist voices by banning a political party that advocates independence for the southern Chinese territory on national security grounds.
John Lee, the territory’s secretary for security, announced that the Hong Kong National Party will be prohibited from operation from Monday.
Lee’s announcement did not provide further details. But Hong Kong’s security bureau had previously said in a letter to the National Party’s leader, 27-year-old Andy Chan, that the party should be dissolved “in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Chan had no immediate comment.
That letter had cited a national security law that has not been invoked since 1997. The ban is likely to raise further questions about Beijing’s growing influence in the former British colony, which was promised semi-autonomy as part of the 1997 handover. Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials have warned separatist activity would not be tolerated.
Chan, the National Party leader, had previously told The Associated Press that police approached him with documents detailing his speeches and activities since the party’s formation in 2016.
The party was founded in response to frustration about Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong. Despite a promise of autonomy, activists complain mainland influence over its democratic elections is increasing.
Chan and other pro-independence candidates were disqualified from 2016 elections to the Hong Kong legislature after they refused to sign a pledge saying Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. The Hong Kong National Party has never held any seats on the council.