Oxfam had a “culture of tolerating poor behaviour” and failed to report child abuse claims against its staff in Haiti, a damning report into the charity’s sex scandal has found.
The Charity Commission has published its findings into Oxfam’s handling of allegations that some of the charity’s aid workers used prostitutes following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
The regulator found Oxfam “repeatedly fell below standards expected, had a culture of tolerating poor behaviour and… failed to meet promises made on safeguarding, ultimately letting everyone down”.
Oxfam did not report allegations of child abuse by its workers in Haiti and failed to take seriously enough the risks to alleged victims, the Charity Commission said.
It also did not adequately look into whether victims of sexual misconduct in Haiti were minors, the regulator added.
Oxfam’s failings amounted to “mismanagement”, the Charity Commission said, while a former executive at the charity “mishandled aspects of its response” to the sexual misconduct claims.
The Charity Commission concluded there had been a “culture of poor behaviour and poor accountability among staff in Haiti at the time, of which individuals took advantage”, prompting the regulator to issue Oxfam GB with an official warning.
Oxfam aid workers were alleged to have used prostitutes in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010 and in Chad in 2006.
The claims were first published a year ago and resulted in more than 7,000 people cancelling their donations, forcing Oxfam to make £16m of cuts to its aid projects worldwide.
Oxfam held its own investigation in 2011 which resulted in four people being sacked and three others resigning.
It was reported that the aid worker at the centre of the scandal, Roland van Hauwermeiren, joined Oxfam after he left another British charity over similar allegations of sexual misconduct.
Van Hauwermeiren – Oxfam’s former director in Haiti – resigned from his role with medical relief charity Merlin in Liberia in 2004 after an investigation into sex parties with local young women, according to humanitarian news website Irin.
He denied the allegations but agreed to stand down, it added.
Oxfam also faced further allegations prostitutes were also used by staff in Chad in 2006, where Mr van Hauwermeiren was the charity’s country chief at the time.
In a statement, Oxfam said: “We are committed to improving our safeguarding and culture, and have taken action to address our past failings, including tripling our investment in safeguarding and ensuring that all staff participated in code of conduct and safeguarding training.
“We have appealed for people who have any concerns to come forward.”