British charity Oxfam failed in its response to allegations of sexual abuse by aid workers in Haiti, tolerated poor behaviour and broke promises to meet safeguarding standards, a report by the UK charities’ regulator said on Tuesday.
Oxfam GB said it accepted the findings of the Charity Commission and was implementing its recommendations.
Oxfam, one of Britain’s biggest charities, was thrown into crisis last year when it was reported that some former staff in Haiti paid for sex while on a mission to help those affected by a 2010 earthquake.
The charity subsequently apologised but the scandal prompted Britain to suspend funding to Oxfam.
The report found it did not do enough to establish whether the victims of sexual misconduct in Haiti were minors, did not report the allegations and treated senior staff more leniently than junior staff.
While the report found no evidence of a cover-up, it said that the charity’s promises on safeguarding had not always been backed up with action.
“What went wrong in Haiti did not happen in isolation,” said Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission. “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.
“Significant further cultural and systemic change is required to address the failings and weaknesses our report identifies.”
The regulator issued Oxfam GB with an official warning and the charity must now set out a plan of action to improve its standards and implement the report’s recommendations. Read more