Updated on Apr 3, 2019. Posted on Apr 3, 2019

    Britain’s Charity Regulator Is Formally Investigating WWF Over Alleged Human Rights Abuses

    The UK Charity Commission has launched an investigation after BuzzFeed News exposed evidence that anti-poaching guards backed by the World Wide Fund for Nature have tortured and killed people.

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    Frank Bienewald / Getty Images

    The Rapti River in Chitwan, Nepal, where WWF-backed forces have been accused of human rights abuses.

    The UK Charity Commission has opened a formal investigation into the World Wide Fund for Nature after BuzzFeed News revealed the charity is implicated in human rights abuses against indigenous people.

    BuzzFeed News reported in March that WWF funds, equips, and works directly with paramilitary forces that have been accused of beating, torturing, sexually assaulting, and murdering scores of people.

    A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said that, “following reports relating to World Wide Fund for Nature International, we opened a regulatory compliance case” into the charity’s UK branch.

    BuzzFeed News

    BuzzFeed News has revealed that WWF-funded forces in Asia and Africa have tortured and killed indigenous people.

    The investigation will examine whether WWF UK conducts proper due diligence to ensure that the grant money it sends overseas does not contribute to violence.

    In a statement, the commission said the “atrocities and human rights abuses that were alleged are at odds with everything we associate with charity”.

    A spokesperson for WWF said the conservation group “will comply fully with any Charity Commission process”. The charity is conducting its own review of the allegations, led by the law firm Kingsley Napley.

    Politicians in the US and UK have called for the governments to investigate whether aid money has been used to fund forces accused of human rights abuses.

    The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has called for WWF undertake a “full and transparent” investigation into the “extremely concerning” allegations. Actor Susan Sarandon also pushed for a probe of the charity. Explorer Ben Fogle suspended his role as a celebrity ambassador for WWF.

    Other prominent supporters, including the actor Christian Bale, and Hollywood star Jared Leto, as well as a number of senior British politicians from the House of Lords, have so far declined to comment. So has David Attenborough, whose new Netflix series Our Planet was produced in partnership with WWF.

    Tom Warren is an investigations correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Tom Warren at tom.warren@buzzfeed.com.

    Katie Baker is an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Katie J.M. Baker at katie.baker@buzzfeed.com.

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