Friday, 25 May, 2018

United Kingdom threatens to cut charity aid cash after Oxfam sex abuse report

No10 door in Downing Street an Oxfam shop's sign GETTY PROBE Government officials said Oxfam has to answer questions over its prostitutes scandal
Lillian Steele | 12 February, 2018, 01:29

On Saturday the Charity Commission said that while Oxfam had reported that it was investigating inappropriate sexual behaviour, bullying, harassment and staff intimidation, it had not given the full details.

Global development secretary Penny Mordaunt said it was "despicable" that sexual exploitation and abuse existed in the aid sector and threatened to cut funding to charities if they fail to comply with authorities over safeguarding issues.

In a further warning, she said: "If they do not hand over all the information that they have from their investigation and subsequently to the relevant authorities, including the Charity Commission and prosecuting authorities, then I can not work with them any more as an aid delivery partner". Among the provisions is a pledge to work with other aid organizations to overcome "the legal difficulties which have so far prevented us from sharing intelligence" with other aid agencies regarding staff members previously accused of misconduct.

The UK-based charity is also facing fresh accusations that its workers used prostitutes in Chad in 2006, the Observer reported.

The French charity told the paper it made pre-employment checks but that Oxfam "did not share with us any warning regarding (his) unethical conduct, the reasons for his resignation or the results of internal inquiry".

Responding to Mordaunt's comments, Oxfam's Chair of Trustees Caroline Thomson said she shared the "anger and shame that behavior like that highlighted in Haiti in 2011 happened in our organization".

She confirmed the charity would meet with the Department for International Development (DFID) on Monday and the Charity Commission, which regulates the sector, later this week.

On Sunday, Mordaunt said she did not think new procedures alone would be enough to convince her that Oxfam should continue to receive public funds.

"The hundreds of thousands of people that support Oxfam every month are compromised by this, and to everybody I do apologise".

British charity Oxfam says it will strengthen its internal safeguards in response to allegations staff members working in Haiti following the devastating 2010 natural disaster engaged in sexual misconduct. He continued that, "because of that the department did not escalate it to ministers, they did not tell and I was never aware of it".

"There is a culture of denial in the aid sector about the exploitation and sexual abuse that has taken place historically for decades".

Responding to a report in The Times newspaper, Oxfam admitted that the behaviour of some of its staff had been "totally unacceptable".

Four members of Oxfam staff were dismissed and three, including the country director, resigned before the end of the 2011 investigation.

The Charity Commission took no further action at the time but says it would have acted differently had it known all the facts.

In a statement, Oxfam denied providing positive references for those implicated.

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