KATHMANDU, Nepal — A Nepali court on Monday sentenced a lauded Canadian humanitarian to nine years in prison for raping two young boys last year, a case that bared a troubling trend of predatory behavior by aid workers in Nepal.
The humanitarian, Peter Dalglish, who worked for decades as an advocate for children in impoverished corners of the world, was convicted in June of sexually assaulting two boys — ages 12 and 14 — last year in Kartike, a small Nepali village of rutted roads where he built a home.
It is unclear if Mr. Dalglish, 62, who has been in Nepal’s custody for over a year and has maintained his innocence, plans to appeal the sentence, which was delivered in a district court and included a small cash payment to each of the victims’ families. Rahul Chapagain, a lawyer for Mr. Dalglish, declined to comment. Two other lawyers who also represented him could not be reached for comment.
International activists following Mr. Dalglish’s case said the ruling was just one step in addressing grave accusations of sexual abuse against children in Nepal, where thousands of nongovernmental organizations operate with limited oversight.
“Peter Dalglish’s sentencing is an alarm bell for the humanitarian community,” said Lori Handrahan, a veteran international aid worker and author, urging her colleagues “to tackle the pervasive problem of predators in our humanitarian workplace.”
In recent months, spurred on by a #MeToo-like movement called #AidToo, humanitarian organizations have added urgency to investigating themselves.
Last year, Oxfam, one of Britain’s biggest charities, acknowledged that in 2011 four workers had been fired and three others had resigned after an investigation found that senior officials for the organization had hired prostitutes in Haiti.Mr. Dalglish’s home in Nepal. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for the sexual assaults.CreditLauren DeCicca for The New York Times
A report released last summer by the government of the United Kingdom found that sexual abuse of women and girls was “endemic” in the aid sector, with few of the perpetrators held accountable for their crimes.
In Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest countries, several foreign men working in charities or as aid workers have been arrested in the last couple of years on suspicion of pedophilia, the police have said. Some of them were accused of luring children with the promise of food, clothing or money.
Mr. Dalglish, a lawyer from Ontario and an awardee of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honors, was well-known for his work with vulnerable children. For years, he helped homeless youth around the world find jobs through an organization he co-founded, Street Kids International, which was absorbed by Save the Children.
He had lived in Nepal off and on since 2002, and helped families rebuild their homes after devastating earthquakes killed nearly 9,000 people in 2015.
In Kartike, a lush village of farmers on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, Mr. Dalglish helped pay for school supplies and employed local people to maintain his sleek house, which he advertised on Airbnb as a “Himalayan Hideaway” equipped with a Bose sound system.
Last April, nearly a dozen police officers swarmed Mr. Dalglish’s home, placed a gun to his head and arrested him under suspicion of repeatedly raping two of the village’s boys, including the son of the home’s caretaker. Investigators eventually found a box containing photographs of naked children, some of them playing in pools.
Gauri Pradhan, a former member of Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission, said Monday’s sentencing put to rest a “landmark case” for the country.
“Peter was an influential person,” he said. “The ruling has given a clear message to child abusers that Nepal is not a safe haven for them.” – From The New York Times.