Germany freezes funding to WWF following human rights abuse in Congo

A major investigation by news site Buzzfeed, released March 4, 2019, exposed a shocking level of violent abuse by ecoguards and rangers funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

A major investigation by news site Buzzfeed, released March 4, 2019, exposed a shocking level of violent abuse by ecoguards and rangers funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
© Buzzfeed

The German government has frozen funding to WWF following a series of investigations by Buzzfeed revealing that the charity funds, equips, and works directly with forces that have tortured, raped and killed people.

WWF has repeatedly suppressed accusations of violence and abuse. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed revealed that WWF had kept evidence of gang rape and torture at its German- and US- funded Salonga park under wraps.

Investigations into WWF’s involvement in atrocities against indigenous people are also underway in the US and UK. In the US, lawmakers on the House Committee on Natural Resources are looking into whether American taxpayer money has gone to forces that have committed human rights abuses. In the UK, the Charity Commission is investigating whether WWF’s UK branch conducts proper due diligence to ensure it does not financially support violence.

The frozen funds were earmarked to go to the Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where WWF had concealed evidence of gang rape and torture. A confidential report commissioned by the charity found that guards had raped and tortured four women, two of whom were pregnant, and had tied male villagers’ penises with fishing lines. Documents seen by BuzzFeed show that WWF requested that German authorities treat all details of the investigation and its findings in a “non-public fashion.”

Survival International has been campaigning since the early 1990s against atrocities committed by rangers funded and supported by WWF. Director Stephen Corry said today:

“Let’s hope the German decision is the start of real change on the ground. For decades, governments have funded well-documented land theft and human rights abuses by big conservation NGOs. Taxpayers shouldn’t tolerate it, nor should the EU Commission, still one of the biggest funders of Messok Dja protected area, in Congo, which is stealing Baka land today.”