23 Sep Human Aid UK Response to Charity Commission Statement
Human Aid UK is a humanitarian charity specialised in assisting victims in war-torn regions. The restrictions and pressures of delivering aid to such zones can on occasion require the use of cash to purchase materials, resources or medicine. There are perfectly lawful provisions for the management of such processes. To assist charities in doing so, the Commission has robust procedures which we follow closely.
The cash seizure on the 9th July came as a surprise considering the fact that the Commission has only visited the charity offices the day before to discuss among other matters our cash carry procedures on life-saving aid delegations.
Excessive use of force by police and border agencies, symptomatic of the disproportionate harassment Muslim charities face, has led to the unnecessary disruption of our work and lifesaving aid missions we send out.
Nevertheless, the trustees complied with its legal duty and reported this heavy-handed cash seizure to the Commission by reporting it as a serious incident.
Saghir Hussain, the solicitor representing Human Aid UK said:
“There will always be tension between the realpolitik of governments and the concerns of the humanitarian sector. The UK government has to act within its own limitations on Assad’s tyranny of his own people and Israel’s cruelty towards Palestine, especially the ongoing siege of Gaza. However, when concerned citizens take personal risks to help the people of Syria and Gaza, they should be applauded rather than be subjected to petty and coercive policies.”
Our legal team is in communication with the police and we expect to retrieve the seized funds very soon.
Human Aid UK trustees are concerned with this escalation. Whilst complying and working closely with the Charity Commission, trustees are also taking legal advice on challenging this undue scrutiny.
These actions take place in the context of a larger pattern of harassment of Muslim Charities at UK borders and prolonged scrutiny of Muslim charities by the Commission. Muslim charities have been raising concerns for a number of years about disproportionate scrutiny from the Commission, which increased under the leadership of William Shawcross and has continued up until now.
This issue has been raised by Sir Stephen Bubb as well as being published in a report by the think tank Claystone.
In addition to facing intense scrutiny, many Muslim charities have had their bank accounts closed without reason, faced funding platforms refusing to service them and also faced ongoing negative media portrayals.
Nur Choudhury, the chair of Human Aid UK said:
“Human Aid UK itself has endured bank account closures, denial of service and a Commission inquiry that lasted in practise over five years. Despite these obstacles and challenges, we have continued to deliver the funds entrusted to us by donors in services and food and medical provisions for needy people around the world.”
We also note that the Charity Commission statutory inquiry into Oxfam was opened and closed within 16 months despite involving serious allegations of years of child sexual exploitation by its staff and volunteers. The inquiry only issued a warning about their conduct.
This stands in stark contrast to the last statutory inquiry launched into HAUK, which took almost three years to publish. Questions over monitoring related to that inquiry remain open until today.
Although the report concluded there had been no misapplication of funds, the process resulted in significant financial loss to the charity and disrupted our life-saving services and provisions.
Notes to Editors:
- Human Aid UK aid victims of war and persecution, as well as addressing the root causes of conflict. We instil hope by standing up for their right to a life with dignity and freedom from oppression. We nurture citizens through programmes that connect their hearts to the oppressed.
- Metro article: Muslim charity workers suffered ‘humiliating questioning’ by terror police during aid trip
- Middle East Eye article: Muslim charity mounts first legal challenge against Schedule 7 stops
- RightsInfo article: Muslim Charity To Sue Border Police After Workers ‘Intimidated’
- Civil Society: Human Aid UK plans legal challenge against border police