UK government reviews sexual misconduct claims against charity Oxfam
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UK government reviews sexual misconduct claims against charity Oxfam

February 12, 2018

The Raw Data

Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.

Britain’s International Development Minister Penny Mordaunt said on Sunday that she was considering whether charity aid organization Oxfam should continue to receive government funding. Mordaunt’s comment was in response to an article published by the Times on Friday reported that Oxfam mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct by its employees in Haiti. The article reported that Oxfam failed to notify legal authorities after conducting an internal investigation and dismissing certain employees.

The allegations of sexual misconduct are from 2011, when Oxfam was working in Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people. The allegations include a claim that Oxfam’s country director Roland Van Hauwermeiren used prostitutes. The Times investigation report said it could not “be ruled out that any of the prostitutes were under-aged.” It alleged there was a “culture of impunity” among some staff in Haiti.

The charity conducted an internal investigation at the time, which led to four people being fired. Three others, including Van Hauwermeiren, resigned. The details of the allegations were not published in the organization’s concluding report, which referred to “serious misconduct.”

Oxfam said in a statement on Friday that its misconduct findings had “related to offences including bullying, harassment, intimidation and failure to protect staff as well as sexual misconduct.” It neither confirmed nor denied specific allegations in The Times’ article.

Mordaunt said the organization did the “wrong thing” by not reporting the details of the allegations. She said she wrote to British organizations about their efforts to “safeguard” staff and people they work with from harm. She said the ministry expected organizations with “safeguarding issues” to “cooperate fully” with the authorities, and would “cease to fund any organization that does not.” The minister is scheduled to meet with an Oxfam representative about the allegations on Monday.

The charitable organization received £32 million ($44m) from the U.K. government in the last financial year.

Oxfam’s chair of trustees Caroline Thompson said it was introducing new measures to increase vetting and induction of new staff, as well as reporting between aid agencies about people who have been found guilty of sexual misconduct. She added that improvements had already been made since 2011.

Sources: BBC, ReutersThe Times