Government report slams Oxfam for 'shameful' actions in Haiti

The 150 page report investigated claims of sexual misconduct from Oxfam staff in Haiti

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Oxfam GB failed to address problems of sexual misconduct within the organisation and was too concerned with protecting its reputation, according to a highly critical Charity Commission report.

The charity came under fire last year when allegations surfaced of Oxfam staff having sex with prostitutes, some of whom may have been underage, in Haiti in 2010 and 2011.

In 2011 four members of Oxfam’s staff in Haiti were fired and a further three resigned.

They were officially stood down over allegations of bullying and harassment, however it wasn’t until last year that reports of sex parties and use of prostitutes emerged.

The Commission said Oxfam “failed to heed warnings” made by staff in 2011, and “may not have fully and frankly disclosed” details about the allegations at the time.

It found Oxfam failed to adequately follow-up whether minors were involved in sexual misconduct.

It also found the charity appeared to treat senior staff more favourably for bad behaviour than junior employees.

Charity Commission chief executive Helen Stephenson said: “What went wrong in Haiti did not happen in isolation.”

“Our inquiry demonstrates that, over a period of years, Oxfam’s internal culture tolerated poor behaviour and at times lost sight of the values it stands for.”

Oxfam GB’s chair of trustees Caroline Thomson said the findings were “very uncomfortable”.

“What happened in Haiti was shameful and we are deeply sorry,” she said in a statement.

“It was a terrible abuse of power, and an affront to the values that Oxfam holds dear.”

She added: “The decision to allow the country director to resign without a fuller investigation of his own conduct would not be permitted today, under our current policies and practices.”

The Commission said there was no evidence of a “cover up” however Oxfam was too focused on protecting relationships with donors and stakeholders.

The charity regulator has issued Oxfam with an official warning and required those in charge to provide regular updates to the Commission.

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