Human Aid UK accuses Charity Commission of Islamophobia after investigation ends – 5Pillars

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Human Aid United Kingdom

Human Aid UK accused the Charity Commission of “overt bias against Muslim charities” after the government agency decided to take no further action against the charity following a two-year investigation.

In a report released today, the Commission concluded that even if it found that there had been misconduct and mismanagement on the part of Human Aid UK, no further regulatory action would be taken.

The investigation was sparked by the seizure of donations by UK Border Police on July 9, 2019, despite Human Aid repeatedly claiming the funds were lawful and for charitable purposes only.

Following the ruling, Human Aid UK said the Charity Commission report had “justified” them.

The charity said: “Human Aid UK welcomes the conclusion of a lengthy investigation following the release today of the Charity Commission investigative report, which concluded that no further action will be taken against the charity. This justifies a number of claims made by Human Aid UK over the past two years that the Commission was overreacting in its approach and indeed acting as an extension of the harassment policy of the police and services of security.

“The unnecessary investigation lasted more than two years and was sparked by the brutal police seizure of charitable funds destined for Gaza. Even after police were forced to return the funds in May 2020 and found nothing illegal in connection with the funds, the Commission continued the investigation. It took precious time and resources that could have been better spent providing life-saving assistance in Syria, Gaza and Yemen.

“Human Aid UK has raised complaints of police harassment and institutional Islamophobia on several occasions, in previous press releases and in communications with the Commission. It was evident that the police exploited the powers of the Commission to outsource the harassment, which inevitably led to the opening of the statutory investigation.

“Human Aid UK spoke to several Muslim charities who all cited continued harassment and Islamophobia by the police, security services, as well as the Charity Commission. These concerns were previously identified in a report released by the Claystone think tank in 2014, citing that Muslim charities are being unfairly targeted.

“The institutional Islamophobia facing Human Aid UK was further compounded in the way the Commission presented certain events during the two-year investigation, using incriminating language against the charity. Human Aid UK recently made a representation to the Commission asking for a more balanced presentation of facts and incidents, especially since the Commission decided that no further action should be taken, but the Commission has always rejected the request.

“The institutional bias of the Charity Commission report on Human Aid UK is evident in relation to the report on serious allegations of sexual misconduct at Oxfam, a non-Muslim charity, which was completed in less time and which resulted in a carefully worded 143. -page report. This should be compared to the 10 page report on Human Aid UK which contains defamatory terms such as ‘irresponsible and reckless’ and ‘grave disregard’, despite the conclusion that no further action has been taken against Human Aid UK. “

Nur Choudhury, President of Human Aid UK, added: “After more than two years of investigation, which have consumed resources that would have been better used to help the needy in Syria, Gaza and Yemen, we are pleased that the Charity Commission concluded with no further action against Human Aid UK. The charity can now focus only on serving its many beneficiaries around the world.

“Despite this, the report is a bitter pill to swallow, as it contains needlessly incriminating language that we deem libelous and inaccurate, and which casts unwarranted suspicion on us and on Muslim charities in general, putting us in a position where we need to spend more. energy dispelling unjustified assumptions.

“When we compare the language and format of the Commission report to much more serious allegations against Oxfam, for example, we think there is evidence of a problem of bias and Islamophobia within the Commission. . We hope that this report opens a dialogue on these issues and that the Commission finally accepts our request to meet with them and other Muslim charities to resolve this urgent issue.

Report of the Charity Commission

In July 2019, Human Aid UK workers were arrested at Heathrow Airport by border police under controversial Annex 7 counterterrorism laws as they were about to cross travel to the besieged Gaza Strip to deliver aid. They were searched and the money they were carrying was seized.

Annex 7 allows UK border police to arrest anyone to determine if they are involved in planning terrorist acts. The powers do not require officers to have grounds for suspicion.

The stops came after the Charity Commission visited humanitarian aid offices the day before to discuss procedures for carrying cash in aid delegations. The seizure of money degenerated into a legal investigation on August 2, 2019.

The Charity Commission investigation report, released today, found that Human Aid UK was not being properly managed or administered by trustees at specific times.

He criticized in particular the decision to allow the transport of funds and to finance an organization in Turkey (NPO) that the police suspected of financing opposition groups in Syria.

The report stated: “The investigation is of the opinion that directors at the time had a serious disregard and / or a lack of understanding of the importance of proper financial controls, record keeping and accountability. which relates to the charity’s overseas expenses, as evidenced by the lack of documentation proving and controlling how the charity’s funds were used by the partner NPO.

“The guilt here is further compounded by the fact that despite requests from the charity for the pending surveillance documentation to be submitted by the NPO, which was not received, the association continued to provide a funding and / or assistance to the NPO despite everything. This includes four aid containers sent to the NPO with an estimated value of £ 77,689.06 at a time when the charity was looking for outstanding cases regarding the payment of £ 83,380 in May 2018. “

However, the report adds that “since the Commission’s intervention in 2019, there have been improvements in the governance of the charity and the directors have shown their willingness to take into account the regulatory advice and guidance provided by the charity. the Commission “.

The report concludes: “Many charities are based in the UK and send money to projects, charities, non-profit organizations and directly to beneficiaries in other countries.

“The trustees of these charities may need to take additional steps to ensure that charitable funds are properly used and reach the intended beneficiaries… When working internationally, charities often operate through local partners rather than establishing their own distribution infrastructure in their country or region of operation. Working through or with a local partner can be an effective way to deliver significant benefits directly to a local community.

“However, this does not shift or diminish the responsibility for ensuring the proper use of the charity’s funds by the local partner. This responsibility remains with the trustees of charities as part of their duties and responsibilities under the charities law. The need to implement risk strategies therefore remains critical.

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