THE CHARITY Commission has criticised Oxfam for the way they dealt with claims of sexual misconduct by its staff in Haiti.
The commission published what they described as a “critical report” on Oxfam, which found that the charity repeatedly fell below standards, had a culture of tolerating poor behaviour, and concluded that it failed to meet promises made on safeguarding, ultimately letting everyone down.
Last year, The Times revealed that Oxfam was accused of covering up claims that staff sexually exploited victims of the earthquake which took place in 2010. It was reported that former Oxfam employees used young prostitutes while based in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Oxfam apologised, saying that what happened in Haiti was “shameful.”
The inquiry into the charity discovered that it failed to heed warnings, including from its own staff, that its culture and response around keeping people safe was inadequate, and made commitments to safeguarding that were not matched by its actions.
The report, which takes into account over 7,000 items of evidence, examines the charity’s handling of events in Haiti, and separately its more recent record on protecting people, including its beneficiaries, volunteers and staff, from harm.
Overall, the Commission concludes that there had been a “culture of poor behaviour” and poor accountability among staff in Haiti at the time, of which individuals took advantage.
Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said the regulator’s findings demonstrate that the incidents in Haiti were symptoms of a wider problem.
She 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.
“The charity’s leadership may have been well-intentioned. But our report demonstrates that good intentions have limited value when they are not matched with resources, robust systems and processes that are implemented on the ground, and more importantly, an organisational culture that prioritises keeping people safe.
“I would like to thank the whistleblowers in this case, who took the courageous decision to come to us with their concerns. Their contribution has made, and will continue to make, an important difference.”