19 February 2018

Africa: Oxfam Releases Report Into Allegations of Sexual Misconduct in Haiti

Photo: The Observer
Winnie Byanyima
press release

A full copy of Oxfam's final internal report into allegations of sexual misconduct and other unacceptable behaviour during Oxfam's humanitarian response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake has been made public today.

Oxfam is publishing the report, written in 2011, in order to be as transparent as possible about the decisions made during the investigation and in recognition of the breach of trust that has been caused.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International's Executive Director, said "Oxfam is urgently committed to act upon the moral responsibilities we have towards women in Haiti. We are also meeting with the Government of Haiti to apologise for our mistakes and discuss what more we can do. It is vitally important we re-examine what happened, and learn from it.

"The measures we put in place as a result of the investigation mean that the case would be handled differently today, but it is clear that there is much more to be done. The action we are now taking, including an independent review of our culture and practices by women's rights leaders, will help ensure abuse is rooted out of Oxfam and help us become more effective in our mission to help create lasting solutions to poverty."

Last week Oxfam announced a comprehensive action plan to strengthen safeguarding systems across the organisation and stamp out abuse. The package of measures includes:

A new independent High-Level Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change, comprised of respected women's and human rights leaders, which will be able to access Oxfam records and interview staff, partners and communities it supports around the world. The names of the Commission co-chairs will be released shortly.

The immediate creation of a new global database of accredited referees - designed to end the use of forged, dishonest or unreliable references by past or current Oxfam staff. Oxfam will not be issuing any references until this is in place.

An immediate injection of resources into Oxfam's safeguarding processes, with the number of people working in safeguarding more than doubling over the coming weeks and annual funding more than tripled to just over $1 million.

A commitment to improve the culture within Oxfam to ensure that no one faces sexism, discrimination or abuse, that everyone, especially women, feels safe to speak out, and everyone is clear on what behaviour is acceptable or not.

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