10 FEB 2018
Oxfam’s reaction to sexual misconduct story in Haiti
Oxfam finds the actions of certain members of staff in Haiti in 2011 absolutely unacceptable; they go against the high values we set ourselves at Oxfam and our expectations of staff.
As soon as Oxfam Great Britain (OGB) became aware of allegations seven years ago, it immediately launched an internal investigation, and in the same year, publicly announced the results to both relevant regulatory bodies and the media. Oxfam did not deliberately cover up the incident. With hindsight, we recognise that it would have been more appropriate to make public more detail, including reference to sexual misconduct.
Trini Leung, Director General of Hong Kong, said: ‘We are shocked and saddened by the incident. We have zero tolerance for staff who engage in such actions as they are contrary to the values and the high standards Oxfam and its supporters expect of staff. We will continue to do our best to learn from the experience and improve our safeguarding system, and continue to further our poverty alleviation efforts to fight inequality.’
Four members of staff were dismissed as a result of the investigation and three, including the country director, resigned before the end of the investigation. With regard to allegations that underage girls may have been involved, this was not proven. Further, the misconduct did not involve the misuse of Oxfam money, and no Oxfam funds were used to pay for the sex workers. The HK$10.8 million that was raised in Hong Kong for the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 went to Oxfam Intermon – the affiliate through which we carried out our humanitarian response.
After the investigation, OGB conducted a thorough review to improve safeguarding policies and practices. As a result, OGB established a dedicated Safeguarding Team and a confidential ‘whistleblowing’ hotline as part of a package of measures to ensure that OGB does all it can to protect staff, prevent sexual abuse and misconduct, and improve how it handles any allegations.
Our confidential 'whistleblowing' line is available to all Oxfam staff and all the people we work with. We will do our utmost to make the safeguarding system work, and ensure that it is open and transparent. It is our hope that through these measures, we can protect staff and everyone we work with, and rebuild our trust with our supporters.
Notes to editors:
For more details about the investigation in 2011 please refer to Oxfam GB's statement here.
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