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Bruce Harris (born 1955 in Scotland, United Kingdom) is the former executive director of Casa Alianza. He served in that post from 1989 to September 2004.

Casa Alianza provided food, shelter and other services to Central American children and advocated on their behalf. As its chief, Harris received prizes and honors, including the $50,000 Olof Palme prize in 1996[1] and the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, worth USD1.5 million, in 2004. In 2001, he was made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom[2]. His efforts included attempting to end the alleged torture and murder of street children by Guatemalan police. Some 392 cases alleging such offenses were brought to trial[3]. He testified regarding children's rights before international bodies, once helping achieve a ruling against Guatemala by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Controversy

Harris was involved in major disputes with Central American authorities. In 2000, Costa Rican president Miguel Angel Rodríguez accused him of plotting to damage that nation's reputation regarding its alleged child sex trade. In 2004, he was tried and acquitted of allegedly defaming the character of the spouse of a Guatemalan Supreme Court member. Harris had accused her of participating in a scheme to have poor mothers put their babies up for adoption without asking compensation. According to Harris, the children would then be provided to U.S. families for $20,000. He also made a speech welcoming the theoretical collapse of the Guatemalan state as a "befitting fate" through bankruptcy as a result of litigation by Casa Alianza[4].

Departure

Bruce Harris left Casa Alianza after allegations he paid a 19-year-old man for sex[5]. The man had been a Casa Alianza resident as a child. The Honduran special prosecutor's office for crimes against children investigated the claim and dropped the case, unable to determine whether Harris had committed a crime. Following the allegation, Harris wrote to the Associated Press, saying he had resigned to spend more time with his family. Casa Alianza said it fired him and that Harris had admitted wrongdoing.

References

  1. ^ Olof Palmes minnesfond
  2. ^ Videoconference on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women, Adolescents and Children
  3. ^ Welcome to Speak Truth to Power
  4. ^ Honduras This Week Opinions & Editorial
  5. ^ The Tico Times Online Daily Page
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