- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A British charity regulator on Tuesday issued a harsh review of the practices of Oxfam Great Britain, saying the organization did not adequately follow up on whether sexual assault victims were minors, did not report instances of child abuse by staff and appeared to treat senior staff more leniently in sexual misconduct allegations.

In an 18-month investigation, the Charity Commission for England and Wales looked specifically into Oxfam’s operations in Haiti in the aftermath of the deadly 2010 earthquake there, and its record on protecting their beneficiaries, volunteers and staff from harm. The report took into account over 7,000 items of evidence.

“What went wrong in Haiti did not happen in isolation,” Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said in the report. “Our inquiry demonstrates that, over a period of years, Oxfam’s internal culture tolerated poor behavior, and at times lost sight of the values it stands for.”

Oxfam GB responded to the aftermath of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Haiti in 2010 that killed more than 220,000 people. The scandal first broke in February 2018 amid allegations that some Oxfam workers in Haiti had taken part in “sex parties” with prostitutes while deployed to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

The subsequent abuse claims led to the resignations of several top Oxfam executives and a sharp decline in charitable donations.

“These are very uncomfortable findings for Oxfam Great Britain,” Oxfam GB’s Chair of Trustees Caroline Thomson said. “But we accept them. What happened in Haiti was shameful and we’re deeply sorry.”

Ms. Thomson also said that “it was a terrible abuse of power that goes against everything we stand for.”

Oxfam GB has changed the processes for reporting serious incidents to the Charity Commission, according to the report.

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