CPO Proposal Process And External Review Panel Update
Posted June 17, 2009
Laksmi-Nrsimhadeva das, Dharini das and Visnugada das have recently posted several articles regarding the Child Protection Office and the CPO Proposal that they submitted to the GBC for review in 2009. They infer that this proposal was mismanaged. As one of the GBC Deputies who was involved with this proposal, I want to definitively state that this did not happen. Every proposal that is submitted to the GBC for review is examined by the GBC Deputies. The Deputies are 25 senior devotees from all over the world who volunteer their time. The Deputies do not change proposals. They assist proposal writers and GBC sponsors to rework the proposal into something the GBC Body can pass as a resolution, should they choose to do so. A resolution is a formal statement of a decision or expression of opinion. Each proposal, therefore, must represent the GBC mood and intent on any issue. No proposal can be modified without the approval of the writers or the GBC sponsor until it becomes a GBC Resolution. At that time the GBC owns the proposal and can modify it as they like. Following normal protocol, Sesa prabhu, the GBC sponsor of the CPO Proposal, attended several meetings with the Deputy group working with this particular proposal. Sesa prabhu was very active and actually guided the process of amending the proposal. It was felt that the goal of the writers named above was met in the amended version. Resolution 305 was passed mandating the formation of an External Review Panel, the purpose of which is to review CPO policy and procedure.
The procedures followed in Mayapura were completely correct and there was no manipulation or unusual dealings whatsoever. According to Sesa prabhu, he informed Lakshi-Nrsimhadeva of the process when he returned from Mayapura. Sesa prabhu said that he explained that a new proposal was submitted; one designed to achieve the objectives of the original proposal and be passable as a legislative document. I would point out, that elements of the original proposal, those not included in the resolution, were part of the discussion with the GBC Deputies and during plenary GBC meeting discussions.
As well, I am pleased to inform everyone that a very rigorous and dedicated External Review Panel is now active in their service. This team is made up of 4 international devotees. They are professionals in the child protection area and are very senior and upstanding devotees. As part of their review process, they are consulting with lawyers in the field, with religious groups who have previously done their own child protection review processes and with a judge who is an expert in child abuse. As well, a new document, Policy and Operational Guidelines for the Child Protection Office has been prepared by a legal consultant. This document has been submitted to this External Review Panel for review. This document represents a complete overhaul of our ISKCON system for responding and dealing with accusations of child abuse.
So there are very concerted and professionally- based efforts going on at this time. Reports will be available in the next few months.
Tamohara prabhu, the current CPO Director, was very satisfied with GBC Resolution, CPO External Review Panel and is fully supportive of the review process. He feels that combined with the existing efforts to develop new policies and procedures, working with the review team of qualified devotees and outside professionals will result in continued improvements to the CPO Policies and Procedures.
Please see below the Resolution 309 passed in Mayapura in February 2009. GBC Resolution 305: CPO Review Panel.
Whereas the original mission of the Child Protection Office was an important and well thought-out effort, and after ten years of operation the Office has gained additional perspectives on the legal and practical complexities involved;
Whereas the work of the Child Protection Office has far-reaching consequences for the victims, perpetrators, and ISKCON as a whole; Whereas ISKCON values fair processes and procedures; Whereas the Child Protection Office has proposed a review process that will assess the policies and procedures of their office; Whereas executive review of the Child Protection Office is a function of the GBC;
That the GBC hereby creates a GBC Review Panel of the CPO comprised of three neutral persons with interest or experience with child protection issues. The members of this panel are to be appointed by the GBC Executive Committee. Upon completion of the current internal review being conducted by the CPO, or in conjunction with it, the Review Panel shall review the revised policies and procedures of the CPO and suggest any amendments helpful in achieving the objectives of the CPO.
The Review Panel will periodically, at the invitation of the GBC Executive Committee, review the CPO's compliance with its own policies and procedures, as well as propose or review additional revisions, and will report its conclusions to the CPO Director and GBC Executive Committee.
The Review Panel shall not represent or advocate for any person or party, get involved in legal issues or formal complaints, or rule on the validity of already issued decisions.
All information shared with the Review Panel remains strictly confidential.
After each review, the Review Panel will make a recommendation regarding the
length of time until the next review, which should be within three to five