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Oxfam workers threatened key witness, report reveals

Oxfam workers threatened key witness, report reveals
2011 internal investigation into charity employees’ misconduct reveals more details

By Muhammad Mussa

LONDON (AA) - Three members of Oxfam’s Haiti team, that were previously under investigation for sexual misconduct, threatened a key witness into silence to ensure their own security and protection, Oxfam’s own inquiry has revealed.

The classified report, released by Oxfam on Monday as part of efforts to contain the fall out that engulfed the charity last week, contains new revelations of serious misconduct by members of the charity in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2011.

“However difficult it is to meet the demands of transparency, and however hard it is to confront mistakes of the past, we believe that ultimately this will help us take meaningful action and become more effective in our mission to tackle poverty and help people hit by disaster,” the report said.

As well as breaching the rules of conduct by engaging in prostitution and physically threatening staff, a charity worker was dismissed for downloading “pornographic and illegal material” on a computer that belonged to the charity, it added.

In addition to using sex workers on the Charity’s premises, the report also revealed how one member, country director Roland Van Hauwermeiren, neglected and failed to safeguard Oxfam employees and in particular, female employees.

Furthermore, the report describes the controversial deal that allowed Van Hauwermeiren to give a one-month notice and quietly resign in exchange for helping with the enquiry.

A copy of the report released on Oxfam’s website -- with the names of the dismissed employees redacted -- explains how the allegations came to light and how Oxfam prepared its investigative process that included interviews with at least 40 witnesses.

“We are making this exceptional publication because we want to be as transparent as possible about the decisions we made during this particular investigation and in recognition of the breach of trust that has been caused” a statement explaining why Oxfam was publishing this enquiry said.

Oxfam also sent an un-redacted original version to the Haitian government and the Haitian embassy in London.

“There are a number of areas where consideration, reflection and action will be required to minimize the likelihood of a situation like this emerging again. After the consideration of this report by the organization an exercise needs to be conducted to document the reasons for the situation arising, what learning we can take from this and what action we need to take going forward” the report added.

source: News Feed
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