Dear Members of the SOS Children’s Villages Family Worldwide,
As Chair of the Independent Special Commission Investigating Allegations Arising from the Work of SOS Children’s Villages (ISC), I am proud to put my experience as a Chief Justice in my home country of Kenya in the service of the ISC mandate. I am also proud to work together with my fellow Commissioners, Justice Gita Mittal (India), Mr. Andras Vamos-Goldman (Hungary/Canada) and Ms. Mona Ali Khalil (Saudi Arabia).
We were appointed in October 2021 by the SOS CV International Senate and started work immediately to set up the foundation to implement our mandate to address allegations regarding child abuse and other child safeguarding failures; economic misconduct and other misuse of funds; and other governance failings.
We were appointed by the SOS CV International Senate as an independent body. Thus our first tasks involved assembling an expert support team; defining and adopting our own Terms of Reference (which can be found on the ISC’s website at www.independentsc.org); developing the Standard Operating Procedures that will guide our investigations and analysis; as well as seeking the subject matter experts with experience in international investigations. I am happy to report that these tasks are either completed or well underway.
We are also well along in the process of establishing our own secure reporting facility and other infrastructure needed to protect the confidentiality of the information we receive and the rights of those who choose to provide it. Once these are in place, we will be able to welcome information that can assist us in fulfilling our mandate and goal -- to safeguard the children under SOS CV’s care and to protect its resources so that they are used in the best interest of the child.
From the start, we vowed to fulfill our duties with independence, impartiality and in accordance with the highest international standards and best practices. It is our hope that these pillars of our work will assure everyone concerned with the future of SOS CV that the ISC will work to ensure the integrity of our processes, uphold the credibility of our investigations and inspire confidence in our reports and recommendations. This is in the ultimate interest of SOS CV; its Member Associations; beneficiaries; employees; donors and other partners.
As stated in our terms of reference, the ISC will not only address past violations but will also set out recommendations to prevent and respond to future violations, pursue justice and accountability and provide support for survivors. We will seek to ensure that past wrongs are appropriately addressed using a survivor-centric perspective as well as to help SOS CV and its Member Associations to prevent such violations from happening again, and if they do, to address them properly and efficiently.
Above all, the ISC’s work will be guided by the principles of “Do No Harm” and the “Best Interest of the Child”. These are fundamental building blocks that also help to ensure fundamental fairness as well as the safety, dignity and rights of survivors and whistle-blowers as well as the due process rights of all those alleged to be involved in any wrongdoing.
Pursuant to our Mandate, the ISC will report its findings and recommendations to the International Senate as well as publicly. Until then, it is important for the credibility of our work, the safety, dignity and rights of the people involved, as well as the fundamental fairness and integrity of the process, that the ISC does its work without publicity, and speaks only through its website and its reports.
- Justice Willy Mutunga, January 2022