The AJACS project, jointly managed by Adam Smith International, funds the Free Syrian Police, an unarmed community police force that works to protect local communities and prevent terrorist control of justice and security systems in liberated areas of Syria.
AJACS activities within Syria were suspended by donors on 16 November pending investigation of the allegations made by Panorama.
When alerted to the Panorama programme, ASI immediately launched investigations – both intensive internal research into each of Panorama’s allegations, and an independent inquiry led by external legal counsel. This extensive research — which found that all allegations were either false, or there was mitigating context — was provided to Panorama in advance of the broadcast.
The UK government conducted its own investigation and found the Panorama allegations to be “untrue, misleading, or were dealt with appropriately by the project and donors at the time.” Donors also commissioned a separate independent review by the third-party monitor of AJACS, which found that Panorama “failed to effectively capture the context in which AJACS operates; explain the overall impact of the programme; and provide robust evidence regarding the specific allegations made”. Donors stated that they “are sufficiently confident that the Panorama programme did not provide any information that was not already known to AJACS, and thus did not identify any risks that AJACS was not already managing.”
The suspension caused an outpouring of community support for the project. Social media, petitions and public demonstrations called for restoration of the Free Syrian Police, which many in the communities called one of very few public services that gives them hope and some semblance of normal life.
Jonathan Pell, ASI interim CEO, thanked the six donor governments – Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Unites States, for their forthright decision and for their confidence in the AJACS project throughout the process.
The suspension on the UK-funded Stabilisation Response Mechanism was also lifted, allowing the project to continue support to southern Syria’s ceasefire and to counter extremist influence over government in northern Syria.
For media inquiries:
Brigid Janssen, Communications Adviser – Adam Smith International
Tel: +44 207 735 6660