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ICW Global Speak Up

18 June 2018

Nothing For Us Without Us

ICW International Steering Committee calls for an end to bullying, harassment and intimidation tactics

Dear ICW Members, Partners, Friends and Allies,

By now you may have seen a communique circulating which purports to be sent on behalf of the International Steering Committee of ICW (ISC). The individuals behind this communication do not represent ICW’s International Steering Committee. They have been duly and properly removed from the ISC for acting against the best interests of ICW, for causing significant damage to the organization, and for failure to execute their fiduciary duties as members of the ISC.

Their actions caused serious harm to the organization and it is for this reason that the ISC had no choice but to remove them. They were removed after due process and careful consideration by the ISC for serious breaches of their duties as ISC members.

The ISC takes our financial oversight role very seriously, we have done our due diligence, and we wish to reassure you as our members and partners that the allegations of misuse of funds and mismanagement made by these disgruntled individuals are completely unfounded, false and defamatory.

There is no evidence for any of these malicious claims, and the underhanded lodging of these accusations to donors and partners is intended to inflict the maximum damage possible to the reputation, the operations and work of the Global Office and to cause harm to individual staff members. We reject these allegations in the strongest possible terms.

Recent actions taken against the ICW Global Office and individual members of staff have taken a serious turn. We received credible reports alleging that bribes have been paid within Kenya to support intimidation and harassment against ICW including actions to undermine ICW Office operations and to undertake specific attacks against ICW Staff Members.

ICW Staff Members have received death threats and other efforts have attempted to secure the deportation of foreign staff in Kenya. There is simply no justification for this sort of violence, especially not within a movement committed to sisterhood, human rights and justice.

Regarding the specific allegations:

The ICW Global Office has very rigorous financial management practices in place and we have a full time qualified accountant on staff as well as annual external audits, and specific external project audits including one completed for the 2016 and 2017.

Our financial management policies do not allow for exorbitant travel expenses nor do they allow for ICW funds to be utilized for the family of staff or ISC, except in some rare and exceptional occasions where the ISC has approved some costs associated with for solo-parenting staff or ISC who must travel and are unable to secure childcare.

We have recently conducted a MANGO financial management and oversight assessment and subsequent training and have the benefit of rigorous financial oversight from our primary donors RCNF and Ford. We are in full compliance with international accounting standards and financial management practices and we are in constant communication with our donors.

Unfortunately, these defamatory and damaging communications are just the latest in a campaign of bullying and intimidation from individuals who have taken steps to derail the launch of ICW’s Strategic Plan and other recent meetings. These groups and individuals have refused to engage in meaningful dialogue about their concerns, nor do they seek to identify specific constructive next steps.

Numerous opportunities from dialogue to mediation have been offered including mediation in June of 2016 and two 5 days sessions in November of 2017 and January of 2018 where there were significant opportunities to raise any and all concerns through independently facilitated discussions.

It is no secret that, like many other networks, ICW has struggled with internal power grabs and attempted leadership coups in the past. Many of you will remember the closing of the London Office in 2009 because of similar campaigning against the staff and governing body.

With the collaborative launch of the Global Office in Nairobi in 2014, we had hoped to put this history in the past and look to a united future for ICW where all networks around the world are supported and working together. We are working closely with key partners to facilitate further dialogue with regions during AIDS 2018 and beyond.

it is clear from the various communications circulating that certain individuals wish to undermine the Global Office and the ISC in the hopes that they can take over leadership for their own self- interests. The ISC has taken steps to put an end to this counterproductive behavior and to forge a more effective and accountable ICW with strong and successful networks at the regional and national level.

We have taken steps to address staff security, we have retained legal counsel to ensure that ICW’s operations are not damaged by these malicious acts and continue to support the networks to minimize the impact of these acts on regional relationships and work.

We continue to work closely with regions and sister networks around the world. We believe that ICW can realize its feminist principles and actualize its commitment not just to a few self-interested individuals but to the women to whom ICW is truly accountable – our members and sisters all over the world.

We remain committed to a connected and united peer-led network focused on doing the work of addressing the important advocacy issues of our time and to truly supporting and working closely with women living with HIV who want and need the connection and sisterhood of the network.

Underhanded power grabs, threats, bullying and harassment simply have no place in ICW’s future.

The International Steering Committee will not entertain further public communication with individuals and groups who have bullied, harassed and threatened ICW. This communique serves as our response from the legitimate governing body of ICW.

Please see below list of legally and duly elected ISC representatives who are authorized to communicate on behalf of ICW.

Marama Mullen

Ruth Linares Hildago

Olena Stryzhak

Norlela Mohktar

Souhaila Bensaid

Hilda Esquivel

Althea Cohen

Zhenya Mayilyan

Should you have any concerns or wish to contact ICW regarding any suspicious communication received by yourself please contact;

Marama Mullen - Chair marama@ina.maori.nz

Ruth Linares – Vice Chair ruthmelh@hotmail.com

 

Law Firm Onyango & Tarus

vonyango@otadvocates.co.ke

etarus@otadvocates.co.ke

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