WWF launches investigation in response to human rights abuse accusations | News | DW | 05.03.2019
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WWF launches investigation in response to human rights abuse accusations

The World Wide Fund for Nature has commissioned an independent review to investigate reports of murder, torture and raids by rangers the charity supports. The accusations came to light in a US media report.

WWF pledged Monday to investigate accusations the organization and its partners engaged in a series of human rights violations.

The move came after the publication of a year-long international investigation by Buzzfeed News, which accused the nonprofit of funding and working with paramilitary forces which disregard human rights in their quest to save endangered animals.

What the report alleged:

  • WWF supported three forest rangers in Nepal's Chitwan National Park who were accused of torturing a local man to death in 2006. Charges against the rangers were later dropped.
  • Indigenous groups living near Chitwan have been beaten, sexually assaulted and shot by WWF-supported anti-poaching units.
  • WWF field staff in Asia and Africa have organized anti-poaching missions and raids with notoriously vicious troops.
  • WWF staff became involved in a botched arms deal in the Central African Republic.
  • WWF is involved with paying people in villages to act as informants and handed over intelligence to rangers and soldiers accused of human rights abuses.

Read more: Conservation in times of war

Cover-up alleged

The director of Survival International, an indigenous peoples' rights charity, called the issues raised in the report "the scandal that WWF has been covering up for decades."

"Will WWF continue with 'business as normal' after these truly shocking revelations, or will it, finally, actually address the problem?" Director Stephen Corry said.

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WWF responds

WWF is active in more than 100 countries and territories. Forest rangers face dangerous conditions and are often shot at or killed by poachers while carrying out their duties.

In a statement, WWF said it had commissioned a review into the cases raised by Buzzfeed and asked the news organization to share the evidence it had.

"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," an unnamed WWF spokesperson said.

Watch video 05:14

Wildlife in areas of armed conflict

se/aw (dpa, Buzzfeed)

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