Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
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United Kingdom reviews Oxfam ties after sex abuse scandal in Haiti

United Kingdom reviews Oxfam ties after sex abuse scandal in Haiti

Oxfam has said it launched an immediate internal investigation in 2011 which found a "culture of impunity" among some staff.

Oxfam has denied it organised a cover-up after it emerged senior aid workers in Haiti used prostitutes following the devastating 2010 quake.

Ms Patel's intervention came as it emerged yesterday that Oxfam had allowed three men to resign and sacked four for gross misconduct after they were found to have hosted "Caligula" style sex parties involving Haitian prostitutes.

But Goldring conceded that the exact nature of the allegations against staff were not revealed and that future employers were not made aware of the alleged incidents.

Even before the latest allegations, Britain's government ordered Oxfam Friday to hand over files on implicated staff to the Charity Commission, which regulates the sector. When asked the same question in a BBC interview, Barbara Stocking, who was the group's chief executive in 2011, said, "I absolutely disagree that we were not transparent".

However, he admitted a report released by the charity at the time did not give details of the allegations. The majority of its 230 staff members working in Haiti at the time are not accused of doing anything improper.

On Friday, Oxfam said it received legal advice in Haiti that given the nature of the allegations and the turmoil the country was experiencing after the natural disaster, it was "extremely unlikely that reporting these incidents to the police would lead to any action being taken".

"Of course we take that very seriously, which is why those people lost their jobs", she said.

"Moreover we received positive references from former Oxfam staff - in their individual capacities - who worked with him", including from a human resources staffer, a spokesman said.

"If wrongdoing, abuse, fraud or criminal activity occur, we need to know about it immediately, in full", the agency said.

"I don't think it was in anyone's best interest to be describing the details of the behaviour in a way that was actually going to draw extreme attention to it when what we wanted to do was get on and deliver an aid programme", he said.

"The behaviour of some members of Oxfam staff uncovered in Haiti in 2011 was totally unacceptable, contrary to our values and the high standards we expect of our staff", a spokeswoman said in a statement. The aid organization, for its part, has defended its actions.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt had requested a meeting with Oxfam's senior team "at the earliest opportunity", the spokesman said.

In its statement Friday, Oxfam said that it had informed its trustees, the United Kingdom government's Charity Commission and global development agency, as well as other major donors such as the European Union, the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies of the investigation and the outcome.

The charity neither confirmed or denied the allegations, but said its misconduct findings had related to offences including bullying, harassment, intimidation and failure to protect staff as well as sexual misconduct.

After the investigation, we carried out a thorough review of the case which resulted in the creation of our dedicated Safeguarding Team and a confidential "whistleblowing" hotline.

"We are now engaged with the charity regarding its approach to safeguarding following more recent allegations".

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