French interior minister to face parliament over Macron's bodyguard

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb waves as he leaves after a weekly cabinet meeting on July 18, 2018 at the Elysee palace in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2018
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French interior minister to face parliament over Macron's bodyguard

  • Gerard Collomb will be questioned by members of the lower house on Monday and by the Senate on Tuesday.
  • Alexandre Benalla, long a fixture at Macron's side, was taken into custody for police questioning on Friday, after an amateur video was released showing him at the May 1 protests in Paris wearing a riot helmet and police tags while off duty.

PARIS: French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb will be questioned by lawmakers next week as the government faces mounting criticism of the way it disciplined President Emmanuel Macron's top bodyguard who was filmed beating a protester on May Day.
Collomb will be questioned by members of the lower house on Monday and by the Senate on Tuesday.
Alexandre Benalla, long a fixture at Macron's side, was taken into custody for police questioning on Friday, after an amateur video was released showing him at the May 1 protests in Paris wearing a riot helmet and police tags while off duty.
Benalla had initially been suspended for 15 days and allowed to return to work. Under pressure, the French presidency said on Friday it had decided to begin dismissal procedures.
Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident itself, the initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary. The Paris prosecutor has also opened a preliminary investigation.
In the footage, which was released on Wednesday by Le Monde newspaper, Benalla can be seen dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.
Another man who appears with him in an amateur video was also taken in custody.
Three other police officers were also suspended on Friday, including two suspected of passing footage of the events to Benalla earlier this week, and were taken into custody.
Critics of Macron have called the president's delayed response a characteristic sign that he is out of touch.


Oxfam told to do more to tackle sexual misconduct and abuse

Updated 1 min 59 sec ago
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Oxfam told to do more to tackle sexual misconduct and abuse

  • Many workers said they had faced entrenched elitism, sexism and racism, while problem staff members were often not held accountable for their actions

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation): Bullying and elitism within global aid charity Oxfam have created “toxic” work environments and enabled sexual harassment by staff, an independent commission has found.
Many workers said they had faced entrenched elitism, sexism and racism, while problem staff members were often not held accountable for their actions, found the interim report released this week.
“There is still a lot to do in terms of building trust within the organization,” Shannon Mouillesseaux, one of the commissioners, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Oxfam said it was making changes to clamp down on misconduct and would act on the report’s recommendations.
“It is painfully clear that Oxfam is not immune from sexual and other forms of abuse that stem from the abuse of power,” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s international executive director, said in a statement.
“To those who have experienced such unacceptable behavior: we are sorry, I am sorry, and we will follow up on any cases passed to us by the Commission as a matter of urgency.”
Oxfam was embroiled in a scandal when it emerged last February that its staff used prostitutes during a relief mission in Haiti, sparking a wider scandal over sexual harassment and abuse in the charity sector.
It appointed the independent commission to review the charity’s practices and culture in response to the Haiti revelations and is also conducting its own action plan to improve its culture and safeguarding.
The commission said Oxfam was not the only charity to face issues over sexual harassment and other misconduct, but its investigation had revealed significant problems remained.
Workers described elitist behavior and bullying in many offices, while “drastic inconsistencies” in handling safeguarding issues meant complaints were not always properly acted on, it said.
Former victims and whistleblowers said they had faced a lack of accountability when raising complaints, with some saying they had been effectively pushed out of the organization.
The commission said work was needed to build trust with staff and recommended changes including action to create a single unified safeguarding system and to diversify the charity’s leadership.
Sexual misconduct claims at Oxfam have sharply risen since the Haiti scandal, reaching 155 in the 2017-18 financial year compared to 87 in the year previously. (Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)