Oxfam allegations have ‘no place in society’, says Charity Commission

Written by Lauren Weymouth

The allegations made against Oxfam have “absolutely no place in society”, the Charity Commission has warned.

Last week, reports by The Times revealed Oxfam allowed three men to resign from their positions and sacked four male employees for gross misconduct without disciplinary action after it was revealed the men has paid for prostitutes whilst working as senior aid workers in Haiti.

Responding to the allegations, the Charity Commission said the reports are “made all the more shocking by the alleged involvement of charity workers”.

“Charities are rightly held to the highest standards,” the Commission said.

“In August 2011, Oxfam made a report to the Commission about an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of misconduct by staff members involved in their Haiti programme.

“It explained that the misconduct related to inappropriate sexual behaviour, bullying, harassment and the intimidation of staff. The report to us stated there had been no allegations, or evidence, of any abuse of beneficiaries. It also made no mention of any potential sexual crimes involving minors. Our approach to this matter would have been different had the full details that have been reported been disclosed to us at the time.”

The Commission said it has written to Oxfam as a “matter of urgency” to request further information regarding the events in Haiti in 2011 to establish “greater clarity” on the matter.

“This includes a timeline of events, information about when the charity was made aware of specific allegations and the detail of the investigation’s findings and conclusions. This information will be considered as part of an ongoing case regarding the charity’s approach to safeguarding,” the watchdog said.

“It is important that charities engage with the regulator frankly and openly. We must fully understand the allegations that have been made to ensure that we have confidence in the charity’s approach to safeguarding now and in the future."

The incidents, which allegedly took place shortly after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, were raised by a whistle-blower who claimed the men had partaken in “sex parties” at the residence.

Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, and the minimum age of consent is 18 years old. However, it was also alleged that the prostitutes may have been underage.

The earthquake took place in Port-au-Prince in 2010, killing hundreds of thousands of people and injuring even more. A number of charities, including Oxfam, rushed to the Caribbean country to offer support to victims and the 1.5 million who had been left homeless.

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