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Prince Harry Pressured To Resign From African Parks Board Amid Alleged Ranger Abuse

Home / News / Prince Harry Pressured To Resign From African Parks Board Amid Alleged Ranger Abuse

By Favour Adegoke on January 30, 2024 at 8:45 AM EST
Updated on January 30, 2024 at 6:57 PM EST

There are calls for the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, to step down from the African Parks board amid allegations of abuse against its rangers. There's an ongoing investigation on claims that the rangers beat and jailed the Baka People of Congo unjustly for trying to access the forest.

Prince Harry was informed of the allegations in May 2023 and even responded, but there have been no more updates. African Parks itself has issued a statement in which it emphasized its zero-tolerance policy for abuse and stress.

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An Abuse Investigation Was Made Public

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The Daily Mail recently published shocking allegations against rangers working at African Parks in the Republic of the Congo. According to the news outlet, the guards abused members of the Baka indigenous group (previously known as pygmies), who live in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park.

The allegations include that the rangers used violence to stop the Baka people from accessing the forest, where they have "foraged, fished, hunted and found medicines for millennia." Community activists told the news outlet that a Baka man died from his injuries after being beaten and jailed unjustly.

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Another woman claimed that she was raped by an armed guard while with her newborn baby. There are more gruesome allegations, including that a man was whipped with a belt and subject to water torture. They also claim that the medical staff at the park were "subject to intimidation to cover up the abuse" against the Baka.

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Prince Is Being Urged To Step Down From African Parks Board

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Amid the abuse allegations, Survival International, a London-based human rights organization that campaigns to protect and defend the rights of indigenous and tribal people, has called for Prince Harry to step down as a member of the African Parks Board.

Their campaign director released a statement to The Times, which read, "We hope that his stepping down from the board of directors will give a clear signal to this organization that human rights abuses in the name of conservation are not tolerated anymore."

Harry started working with African Parks in 2016, and the following year, he was elected president of the group. In 2023, six years into his tenure, the Duke of Sussex was officially appointed as a member of the Board of Directors, which is the governing body of the organization.

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Prince Harry Was Previously Informed Of The Alleged Abuse At African Parks

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Survival International reportedly wrote to Harry in May 2023 to inform him of the abuse allegations. At the time, he was still president of African Parks and was also sent a video message from Eyaya, a Baka man, in which he spoke about the abuse.

At the time, Eyaya said, "The eco-guards are stopping us from going into the forest. I'd like whoever is sending all these people here to hear what it's like. I want the person who is in charge of the eco-guards and gives them their orders to hear this. Now, there is only torture in the forest."

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According to The Times report, Harry responded to the message with "an initially sympathetic letter" and promised to address their concerns and "escalate the concerns to the most senior ranks of the organization, including the chief executive, Peter Fearnhead."

However, Fiore Longo, campaign director of Survival International, told the news outlet that there have been no further updates from Harry since then. He said, "He said he took it seriously, but it didn't achieve the change we had hoped to see. Then, very disappointingly, we learnt that Harry had joined the board of directors."

African Parks Has Issued A Statement

Amid the controversy of the abuse allegations, African Parks has issued a statement from its CEO and board. In it, they emphasized their zero-tolerance policy for abuse and stress and revealed that there's an ongoing investigation, which is its "highest priority."

It read, "We are aware of the serious allegations regarding human rights abuses by eco-guards against local people living adjacent to Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo, which have recently received media attention. We became aware of these allegations last year via a Board Member who received a letter from Survival International."

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African Parks further wrote that there's been poor cooperation from Survival International regarding the sharing of information on the case. They also encouraged anyone with "knowledge of any abuses to report them to us or to the Congolese law enforcement authorities, which will assist with the investigation and ensure that the perpetrators of any abuses are brought to justice."

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