Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) admits it made an “erroneous” report to the UN when it denied that child abuse was rife in the British overseas territory of St Helena.
The FCO has been accused of lying to the United Nations over “endemic” child sex abuse in the remote South Atlantic island to cover up allegations, including a case of a police officer having raped a four-year-old girl and another police officer having “mutilated a two-year-old.”
Two child protection whistleblowers who worked on the island are now suing the FCO and the UK Department for International Development for constructive dismissal.
Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, UK social workers who worked on St Helena, which has 4,000 inhabitants, were shocked by what they found on the island. They said they were victimized after reporting abuse, then were threatened and eventually forced to leave.
The FCO then commissioned a report by children’s charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. The report was not published, but the findings were leaked to the whistleblower website. It found there was a “persistent” culture of abusing teenage girls and a “cultural acceptance of the premature sexualization of children” on St Helena. Girls were subjected to “violent and brutal” attacks, the report said.