Oxfam pressed over claims its aid staff in Haiti used prostitutes | World news


Charity Commission demands details of allegations about senior aid workers’ conduct

Oxfam sign on shop

Oxfam allowed three men to resign and sacked four for gross misconduct after an internal inquiry.
Photograph: Tim Ockenden/PA

The charity watchdog has demanded that Oxfam provide details of allegations that senior aid workers used prostitutes in earthquake-hit Haiti.

Oxfam allowed three men to resign and sacked four for gross misconduct after an inquiry into sexual exploitation, the downloading of pornography, bullying and intimidation, a confidential 2011 report seen by the Times newspaper revealed.

One of the men allowed to resign without disciplinary action was Oxfam’s country director in Haiti, Roland van Hauwermeiren, who, according to the report, admitted using prostitutes at the villa rented for him by Oxfam with charitable funds. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti and the age of consent is 18.

Oxfam informed the Charity Commission about the broad nature of the allegations but without specific detail and failed to provide the watchdog with a final report.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said it was engaged with Oxfam on more recent allegations of sexual harassment, reported widely last year, and has demanded that the charity provide details of the claims in Haiti.

She said: “We are currently engaged with the charity regarding its approach to safeguarding following more recent allegations. As part of that, we have already asked the charity to review historic safeguarding allegations and its response to them at the time. We expect the charity to include in their review incidents that occurred in 2011.

“We will expect the charity to provide us with assurance that it has learnt lessons from past incidents and is taking all necessary steps to safeguard all who come into contact with it.”

The report seen by the Times said there had been “a culture of impunity” among some staff in Haiti and concluded that children may have been among those sexually exploited by aid workers. It stated: “It cannot be ruled out that any of the prostitutes were underaged.”

Oxfam said it had publicly announced the investigation in 2011, though the press release issued at the time contained no specific details about sexual misconduct. It did, however, state the claims related to abuse of power and bullying and not fraud.

The charity said it had allowed Van Hauwermeiren to resign on the basis that he fully cooperated with and supported the investigation.

It also added: “Allegations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven.”

The earthquake in Port-au-Prince in 2010 killed 220,000 people, injured 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless. Oxfam was among a number of international aid organisations to descend on the country to provide support.

This news collected from :Source link