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ARGENTINA | 26-04-2018 16:50

Greenpeace Argentina boss accused of sexual harassment

NGO's executive director of Argentina branch suspended after around 40 former employees signed a document accusing him of discrimination, threats and sexual harassment. 

The executive director of Greenpeace Argentina has been suspended after about 40 former employees signed a document accusing him of discrimination, threats and sexual harassment. 

The allegations against Martín Prieto, who is also responsible for Greenpeace's offices in Chile and Colombia, were detailed in a letter released earlier this week, prompting the environmental organisation to suspend him  while it carries out an investigation.

In the letter, the signatories lay out details of the alleged abusive practices and harassment of women that they experienced at the hands of Prieto, who has held the executive job for more than 20 years. 

Among the accusations against him, they list "discrimination and gender-based violence, abuse of power against female employees, sexual harassment, workplace harassment and bullying."

They also allege that he violated the privacy of correspondence, disseminated intimate photographs and made obscene remarks about bodies or clothing. 

"Taking legal action to ask that these acts are investigated is just part of the process of transparency that we are pushing for to achieve a secure working environment and protect everyone in our organization," said Natalia Machain, Greenpeace's director of policy. 

The text of the letter was widely distributed on social media, with the signatories saying they wanted the public and the organisation's supporters to know "the seriousness of what has been happening in recent years" at Greenpeace's Argentina office. 

The former employees accuse the executive of "gender discrimination and violence, an abuse of power with employees, sexual harassment and and workplace harassment."

"We want to make it publicly known to the partners, who with their monetary contribution finance the work of the NGO, and to the public in general, the seriousness of what has been happening in recent years in the Argentina office," reads the letter with names and surnames of the complainants.

Former employee Consuelo Bilbao told the LN+ television and La Nación daily that 42 people had signed the letter, all of them former staff or ex-volunteers. 

"We are directing this complaint at the executive director because for the past 23 years, it is he who has been – and still is – responsible for such conduct, both covering it up and engaging in it himself," she said.

Employees on work trips had to put up with him walking around in his underwear in front of them, and he had even been observed in both Argentina and Chile "watching pornography while at work to such an extent that people noticed it," she alleged.

Allegations of workplace harassment at Greenpeace Argentina are not new. The organisation admitted that its head of logistics had been dismissed following an investigation in 2013.

In response to the latest allegations, a Greenpeace statement said it "takes such matters very seriously."

- AFP

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