Terre des hommes
Terre des hommes, also Terre des Hommes (Land of People or Land of Men) is an international children's rights charitable humanitarian umbrella organization under the aegis of the International Federation of Terre des Hommes (TDHIF), with independent organizations in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and Syria. It was founded in 1960 by Edmond Kaiser in Lausanne, Switzerland. The organization is named after Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's 1939 philosophical memoir "Terre des hommes" (English title: Wind, Sand and Stars). An important part of the TDHIF's work is as a consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Promoting the Convention on the Rights of a Child is an important activity of Tdh. Advocating for children’s rights, defending them, and spreading information are tasks which Terre des Hommes – to the aid of children considers a priority. TDHIF runs the two campaigns 'Destination Unknown' - Children on the Move (www.destination-unknown.org) and 'Children Win' - Changing the Game of Mega Sporting Events (www.childrenwin.org).
Two organizations are based in Switzerland. Besides Terre des Hommes Switzerland, there is the Lausanne based Tdh Foundation – child relief (Tdh), which is known for its health and child protection operations implemented in more than 30 countries, including development projects – such as the long-term improvement of care in Benin or fighting against malnutrition in Bangladesh; as well as emergency aid – such as the tsunami-affected regions of Sri Lanka or in Haiti following the earthquake in January 2010.
The Netherlands branch supported 297 projects, created and established by local organisations, in 22 countries.
Webcam child sex tourism awareness raising
In 2013, adult offenders from rich countries, willing to pay for watching children from poor countries to perform sexual acts in front of the webcam, i.e. engaging in webcam child sex tourism, were recorded and their identity disclosed. Identities of more than 1,000 offenders from more than 65 countries were handed over to Interpol. Arrests were made and other victims were rescued, resulting in global media coverage for the project. Together with Avaaz.org, Terre des Hommes the Netherlands has created an online petition to pressure governments to adopt proactive investigation policies in order to protect children against webcam child sex tourism.
The Spain branch financially supports various direct relief programs for children in many countries in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, for social aid and education, the rights of children and mother-and-child health care. In Spain there is also a campaign for awareness-raising, entitled "Stop child trafficking", with the aim of fighting all the various forms of child exploitation. Terre des hommes Spain also carries out significant medical aid for children from several African countries, thanks to the program "Journey towards Life".
The France branch works with partners in the field on activities that protect and defend economic, social and cultural rights.
2008 Ethiopian paedophilia allegations
In 2008 Terre Des Hommes-Lausanne brought a defamation suit against a teacher in Ethiopia, Jill Campbell, for accusing the branch of knowingly hiding child abuse in one of its centres in the village of Jari. Mrs Campbell compiled evidence which helped to convict a British paedophile who was sentenced in 2003 to 9 years hard labour in prison. Another suspect committed suicide after posting a confession on the internet. However Mrs Campbell alleged that senior staff running the centre knew of the abuse, covered it up and failed to inform the authorities.
Mrs Campbell faced 6 months in prison if she failed to withdraw the allegations. Her husband Gary had already withdrawn similar allegations in order to avoid prison and ensure that one of the couple would be able to look after their two ten-year-old adopted children. The charity eventually withdraw its suit before Campbell was due to be sentenced on 7 March, saying that her husband's apology was sufficient.
In a statement the charity said that it asked the court not to sentence Mrs Campbell because her husband had made a full apology.
“The case is now closed with the Campbells' acknowledgement of wrongdoing and promise to halt their illegal defamation campaign which has been wrongly interpreted as ‘whistle blowing'”.
“From the First Instance Court to the Ethiopian Supreme Court the judges have upheld the Terre Des Hommes argument in this respect and ruled accordingly.”
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- Official Sites
- (English) (French) International Federation Terre des Hommes
- (French) (German) (English) Terre des hommes Lausanne
- (German) (English) (French) Terre des hommes Germany
- (English) (Dutch) Terre des hommes Netherlands
- (Spanish) (English) Terre des hommes Spain
- (French) Terre des hommes France
- (French) (English) (Spanish) (Italian) Terre des hommes Switzerland
- (English) Canadian website