Government refuses to introduce mandatory background checks for humanitarian aid workers
The government refused to introduce mandatory background checks for humanitarian aid workers, despite cases where aid workers committed sexual abuse continuing to come to light, the Nederlandse Dagblad reported.
Screening humanitarian aid workers remains in hands of aid organizations because there is no sector-specific VOG. "The integrity issue is the responsibility of the humanitarian services themselves," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. A VOG for the humanitarian sector would mean that aid organizations are legally required to conduct background checks on their employees for sexual and/or power abuse charges.
"We have spoken with the screening authorities for the Ministry of Justice about sector-specific VOG, but they indicated that it is complicated from a legal point of view," Edwin van Gerween from the Red Cross told the Nederlandse Dagblad.
Faction leader of the BBB, Caroline van der Plas, said that perpetrators hid under the guise of wanting to do good. "People think oh, they want to help people, so they must be good." She, along with SP MP Jasper van Dijk and SGP MP Chris Stoffer are in favor of a sector-specific VOG.
Some members of humanitarian aid organizations do not understand the necessity of background checks. "Our members don't always get why they need to establish integrity policies within their organizations," director of the Partin, the industry association for private initiatives, Erik Boerrigter, said.
The case of a Dutch aid worker who allegedly sexually abused someone he was supposed to help in Malawi is still being investigated. There are likely many other abuse cases by white aid workers on the African continent that go unreported. "All the single, white men look for boys and girls to have sex. Everyone knows that. It's a problem," the victim said in an interview with Nederlandse Dagblad.
"If you go Malawi as a 21-year-old Dutch 'cheese head' and think you don't have any power you are mistaken," Boerrigter said. "If you work with children, the elderly or disabled people, you need to do a background check."