Internal Audit Division,OIOSOn April 30, 2010, the Director of Internal Audit Division, OIOS, has issued a report that was sent to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, regarding the Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture (KRC).
The report claims that KRC has received funding from the United Nation Fund for the Support of Victims of Torture without the sustained financial reports and documents, especially for the July 2006 war. Therefore, the report recommends stopping funding the centre until KRC submits the required reports fully documented.
The report was issued based on a visit of a delegation from the UNVFVT and OIOS to KRC in Beirut and in the South from 19/1/2010 to 25/1/2010.
The Khiam Center began receiving funding from the United Nations Fund for the Support of Victims of Torture in 2001. The amount varied between $10,000 and $20,000, reaching $45,000 in 2006. In 2004 and 2005, two delegations from The High Commissioner for Human Rights visited the center where they did not state any comments on the center’s reports; on the contrary, the financial support to the center was increased to reach $90,000 in 2009. Additionally, the Secretary General used to visit the headquarters of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on yearly basis to participate in the Human Rights Council activities without receiving any essential observations on the center’s financial or annual reports. Briefly, since 2001 and until 2009, all KRC’s reports have met the guidelines of the UN Fund for the Support of Victims of Torture.
The Sudden Visit:
On 18/1/2010, I received an email from Ms. Lawrence Andrew stating that a delegation from the UN Fund will visit KRC on 19/1/2010 in the morning to meet center’s staff and explore its activities.
We welcomed the visit, although it is not the appropriate way to organize it because it is incompatible with the terms of the visit (such as giving a prior notice and prepare the visit program) as defined in the visits guidelines of the UN Fund, point 82.
The real purpose of the visit turned out to be notifying us of a decision rather than giving us a feedback and evaluating the center’s work. She met me for few minutes only, and her meetings with the staff were quick (sometimes while standing up). She disliked everything at the center and that what we expressed in our letter to the UN Fund before the delegation has left on 25/1/2010.
We note that we have received a letter from Ms. Lawrence on 11/11/2009 in which she requested clarifications on our 2008 reports, to which we replied on 30/11/2009. The questions were related to our type of work, and we were surprised to receive such kind of questions after many years of support and funding.
Therefore, we can’t separate the visit and the report from the previous letters and inquiries that, as revealed, were targeting KRC and its activities and the reasons may be both internal and external.
The 12-page report was not sent to us officially, but we read it online and it contains 6 recommendations:
The first recommendation focused on the loss of the reports related to the July 2006 war. First, not all reports were destroyed (only the ones of the South. The ones located in our center in Beirut were safe) and we have already reported to the secretariat that, during the July 2006 war, the center headquarter in the South was destroyed during the war along all its contents (we have included the photos of destruction in the report). We have also replied to question19 in the “Financial Questionnaire” email, sent on 26/3/2007, that our files were destroyed in the July 2006 war. Then, after the visit, we have sent to the Secretary of the UN Fund an official document from the Council for Development and Reconstruction that is related to the Lebanese Government regarding rebuilding the KRC in the south. The project was part of the social development project funded by World Bank after the July 2006 war, contract No. 4738. The document was signed on 12 March 2007 in the Council headquarters in Beirut by Mr. Nabil Jisr, the Chairman of the Council for Development and Reconstruction, and Mr. Mohammed Safa, the Secretary General of KRC. We have provided our reports based on the availability of files, as most of the files were destroyed by the Israeli aggression. Are we getting penalized and held responsible for that???
The secretariat could have requested these documents or any other documents after we replied to the Financial Questionnaire in 2007.
The second recommendation:
It mentions that the financial account of the UN and the EU, especially in 2007, are not separated and that all receipts are one. What about the years 2008 and 2009?
We must clarify that the UN Fund has its own account since 2001. But with the start of the new project funded by the European Union in May 2007, and the fact that both projects were targeting the same social group (the victims of torture and their families), there was one account, as the pharmacy cannot give us two receipts for the same medicine. But the separation is clear that the EU covers 75% of the project costs whereas the Fund supports 25% only. Additionally, there are some items that the EU does not cover such as: the financial supports of volunteers, the stationery cost, etc.
The Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture project is funded by the UN, EU, IRCT and the OAK, and it is not possible to have receipts for each and every funder. We opted for the financial ratio as a solution and that what we adopted in our financial system. However, the visiting delegation was not convinced by this fact.
The OIOS report states that we have given financial assistance to the victims without receipts. No one can take a financial assistance without a receipt. Moreover, the financial assistance is not relative to cash assistance only, but it can possibly include stationary or hospitalization costs, and all are well clear and documented.
Regarding medicines, getting the receipts totally depends on the type of activity, sometimes there are receipts and other times there isn’t. For example, during the Health Day where dozens of victims are participating, it is difficult to ask for receipts. But wasn’t it clear that the medicines are diverse and varied, that the victims sometimes bought them themselves and other times the social worker purchase them after the doctor prescribe them? It is not doctors who buy the medicines, as it is stated in the report. Doctors only provide the names of the required medicines.... Then the project manager signs the list after which we purchase the medicines from the contracted pharmacies. Medicines are purchased according to the victims’ needs and there is a complete separation between drugs that are donated from the Ministry of Health in Lebanon and the ones that are funded by the UN or the European Union or other.
What applies to pharmacies also applies to salaries, as 75% is covered by the European Union and 25% is covered by the UN. This issue was clear after the conclusion of the EU project as 75% was covered by the EU and 25% by the UN.
The project value is 857.136 Euro. The EU covered 642.000 Euro and the UN covered 215.136 Euro (September 29, 2011).
Regarding the signature of the Secretary General and the Treasurer, it is based on the internal rules and regulations of KRC.
As for the volunteers, we did not say that we are paying for 75 volunteers; We said that the number of volunteers is 75 and not all of them got paid a monthly or periodic assistance.
In 2007, 14 volunteers received financial assistance. In 2008, only 11 volunteers received assistance, and in 2009, 13 volunteers received assistance. The above numbers depend on the activities that they took part in and all details are well documented with names and numbers.
Regarding the victims who received financial assistance or in-kind support (stationery, clothing, etc.), following are the respective dates and numbers:
- Year 2007: 90 cases.
- Year 2008: 130 cases.
- Year 2009: 128 cases.
And that is also well documented in names and numbers in the victims’ files.
That does not mean that there was no mistakes, but mistakes can be corrected by giving feedback, guidance, and training. We agree on many of the recommendations that there should be a separate bank account and special clear and precise standards for volunteers, that we should organize the issues related to medicines issue and the victims signing the receipts. These details can be easily applied and we have started implementing them.
The solution is not to stop the funding because the primary injured party would be the victims of torture, their families and the families of the missing.
The Centre carried out everything asked of it despite the lack of conviction that for the credibility of the center, and we continued our activities despite financial difficulties. In the year 2011 the number of beneficiaries who are victims of torture and Lebanese prisons and mothers of missing was 504 cases (attached annual report of the Center for the year 2011) however, the financial assistance is still blocked for the Center for reasons other than compelling and let us know, especially after the 2010 closure of the old file.
The KRC is the only center in southern Lebanon and includes activity: Lebanese prisons and victims of torture and still place the headquarters of the network security, network rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture in the Middle East and North Africa, and what happened to our right to terminate support is not professional nor fair, hoping to not be there any backgrounds for this decision.
Secretary General of Khiam Rehabilitation
Center for Victims of Torture