dimanche 18 février 2018

Oxfam admits man dismissed over Haiti prostitution scandal in 2011 was rehired later that year in Ethiopia

Oxfam says it is examining how 'serious error' happened
Oxfam re-hired one of the aid workers sacked over alleged sexual misconduct in Haiti just months later, it has emerged.
The charity apologised for the “serious error” shortly after Desmond Tutu became the latest high-profile figure to step down as an ambassador.
A spokesperson confirmed that the man was dismissed from his post in Haiti in 2011 but subsequently hired as a consultant in Ethiopia from October to December that year.
“Hiring him, even in an emergency as a short-term consultant, was a serious error and should never have happened,” a statement said.
“We are still checking how this occurred but it further highlights that we need an organisation and sector-wide approach to the vetting and recruitment of both staff and consultants, especially in emergencies where there is pressure to fill posts quickly in order to help save lives.
“We are now checking whether there were any issues in Ethiopia while he was there.”
The man was among four members of Oxfam staff to be dismissed over the alleged use of prostitutes in Haiti, although the extent of their involvement is unclear.
Oxfam's head of safeguarding: In one instance 'a woman had been coerced to have sex in exchange for aid'
Three others, including the country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, resigned before the end of an internal investigation in 2011.
The Charity Commission has launched a statutory investigation into Oxfam after claiming it failed to “fully and frankly disclose material details” of allegations against its staff.
The Government has warned that aid agencies failing to offer adequate assurances about their safeguarding processes and transparency could have funding withdrawn, while Labour is calling for a full inquiry.
Archbishop Emeritus Tutu became the latest high-profile figure to distance himself from Oxfam as the scandal continued on Thursday.
The South African Anglican leader said he was “deeply disappointed by allegations of immorality and possibly criminality involving humanitarian workers linked to the charity”, which he had supported for many years.
“He is also saddened by the impact of the allegations on the many thousands of good people who have supported Oxfam’s righteous work,” a spokesperson added, confirming he had retired from the position of global ambassador.
Actress Minnie Driver resigned earlier this week, followed by Senagalese singer Baaba Maal, while former ambassador Livia Firth, the wife of actor Colin, said the men involved had “betrayed all who put their faith in them”.
“It would be a tragedy to see this relief work and advocacy stopped,” she added.
”Oxfam must do everything in its power to heal the damage to those who depend on both its work and the good faith and generosity of its supporters.“
Mr Van Hauwermeiren, the Belgian aid worker at the heart of the scandal, claims reports of his activities as Oxfam’s country director for Haiti and previously in Chad included ”lies and exaggerations“.
"A lot of people, including in the international media, will be blushing with shame when they hear my version of the facts,” he told De Standaard.
"It is not that I deny everything. There are things that are described correctly. But there are many lies and exaggerations.
"Parties every week? Fancy villas? Women paid with money from the organisation?"
He indicated the revelations had taken a personal toll, telling the paper: "It is especially bad that my family no longer want to see me."
Corporate support for Oxfam has been wavering and although the charity says it is too early to tell the impact of the crisis” on donations, it revealed 1,270 people cancelled their direct debits between Saturday and Monday - almost double the average of 600 cancellations per month.
The scandal already caused the resignation of the charity’s deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence, who said she took “full responsibility” for the alleged use of prostitutes by senior staff in Haiti and on a previous placement in Chad.
A subsequent country director for Haiti, Damien Berrendorf, was sacked last year but had no connection to the previous case.
Oxfam said Mr Berrendorf, who was in the post from 2012 to 2017, was dismissed for mismanagement.
“The dismissal was not related to sexual misconduct and was not connected to the case in 2011, however, there were allegations of inappropriate behaviour,” a spokesperson added.
“As soon as the allegations were reported via Oxfam’s whistleblowing line, they were investigated and the individual was dismissed.”
It came as the International Development Secretary met with the National Crime Agency (NCA) discuss how they could jointly tackle sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid industry.
The NCA has been “closely monitoring” allegations and confirmed it has a range of powers to investigate sexual offences committed outside the UK and support foreign security forces.
Penny Mordaunt has threatened to cut Oxfam’s public funding, which totalled £31.7m in 2016/17, and that from other charities that fail to reassure the Government vulnerable people are safeguarded.
“No organisation is too big, or our work with them too complex, for me to hesitate to remove funding from them if we cannot trust them to put the beneficiaries of aid first,” she said.
The Government has written to all British charities working overseas demanding “absolute assurances” that they are protecting vulnerable people and referring complaints to authorities.
A new unit dedicated to reviewing safeguarding in the aid sector and stopping “criminal and predatory individuals” being employed by other charities has been created, and a global register of development workers may be established.
The International Development Committee is to hold an urgent session on Tuesday to question Oxfam UK's chief executive Mark Goldring and its chair of trustees, Caroline Thomson.
Save the Children's chief executive, Kevin Watkins, is due to give evidence on wider sexual exploitation in the aid sector and a Government representative will be present to explain its knowledge of the problem.
SOurce: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/oxfam-haiti-prostitution-scandal-dismiss-aid-worker-rehired-ethiopia-2011-abuse-charity-latest-a8212466.html

The scale of sex abuse at the hands of UN workers could be huge. The shocking fact is paedophiles target aid organisations

In early 2017 the United Nations Secretary General admitted to 145 incidents involving 311 victims in 2016 alone, mainly in peace operations. Many of the victims were children
Andrew MacLeod @AndrewMMacleod
This piece was originally published on 20 September 2017. It has been updated to reflect developments in the story.
This week the news has been dominated by allegations of sexual misconduct by Oxfam aid workers. It has been reported that workers representing the charity in war-torn Haiti hired prostitutes who may have been underage, and downloaded illegal material.
Since this information came into the public sphere, the Department of International Development has called for answers and the Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into the organisation.
However, as I reveal below, the sexual misconduct perpetrated by Oxfam workers is only the tip of the iceberg. When we look to the scandal that has engulfed the UN for decades, which was first explored on these pages in March 2017, things become a lot more sinister.
The UK’s National Criminal Intelligence Service, which registers and monitors the activities of paedophiles, has warned as far back as 1999 that the scale of paedophiles in the international aid world is on a level with sex tourism.
This at first may seem shocking. But when one realises the good work of police forces to detect, prevent and prosecute paedophiles in our own communities is gaining in effectiveness, it is perhaps a predictable consequence that predatory paedophiles target the developing world.
The sad truth then is the easiest way for a paedophile to gain access to children in the developing world is to work for a children’s charity.
What then are the aid agencies, particularly the United Nations, doing for training, prevention, detection and prosecution of paedophiles in order to send the signal that the aid world is no easy target?
The truth is sadly, not enough, and it is time for the UK Government, that funds the UN and NGOs, to make our view heard.
In early 2017 the United Nations Secretary General admitted to 145 incidents involving 311 victims in 2016 alone, mainly in peace operations. We covered this on these pages earlier this year.
Sadly, the 311 victims are only those who were brave enough to come forward to report the rapes and abuse.
Many of the victims were children.
The UN Secretary General confessed that this was only the tip of the iceberg. But how big is the iceberg?
In September 2017 in New York, the Secretary General made a startling admission at a high-level meeting on the wings of the UN General Assembly meeting.
Antonio Guterres said “sexual exploitation and abuse is not a problem of peacekeeping, it is a problem of the entire United Nations. Contrary to the information spreading that this is a question related to our peacekeeping operations, it is necessary to say that the majority of the cases of sexual exploitation and abuse are done by the civilian organisations of the United Nations, and not in peacekeeping operations.”
If the majority of cases are outside of peace operations, the admitted 311 cases in peace operations are less half the reported victims in a single year. The total may well be over 600 of known victims.
In the United Kingdom about 14 per cent of rapes are reported. If we assume slightly less rapes are reported against the United Nations, a safe assumption given the environments in which the United Nations works, and assume 10 per cent, then that 600 victims could represent 6,000 real victims, in only one year – many of whom are children.
That could mean 60,000 in a decade. Andrew Mitchell says Oxfam 'did report the matter to the Department for International Development but he wasn't informed What is the United Nations doing in training, prevention, detection and prosecution of these crimes?
When one looks at the United Nations’ own website and filters the data to see accusations for child sex crimes that have been investigated by the United Nations, found to be upheld, how many of these people have been reported back to police forces for prosecution?
Not a single one – by the UN’s own data on their own data base. Thousands of victims and not one person in jail.
So what should we demand of the UK Government?
If we are to continue to support the good works of the UN in other areas we must demand the best in class training, prevention, detection and prosecution of sexual abusers, particularly when it involves children. The United Kingdom should demand that the UN demonstrate that the organisation we fund has the best in class systems for training, prevention, detection and prosecution of child abusers.
In September 2017 the UK did, through ex-Department for International Development head Priti Patel, deliver letters to UN agencies saying that funding will be contingent on cracking down on child abuse.
The UK Government should be congratulated for this. But what about prosecution?
Admittedly prosecution of peacekeeping soldiers can be problematic with responsibility falling to “troop-providing countries” but no such escape exists from prosecution of United Nations’ core staff.
Unfortunately, there is a Convention on United Nations Privileges and Immunities which gives legal protection from prosecution for a UN staff member performing his or her duties. Amazingly some think that child abuse falls within the definition of “performing duties” and therefore legal immunity from prosecution should apply.
If this turns out to be true and we put protection of child rapists before the protection of children, something is severely wrong.
The UK Government should demand from the United Nations that it clearly states the organisation’s position on child abuse. Does the UN think perpetrating, aiding or assisting in child abuse is really “performing duties”? Will the UN insist on legal immunity for its staff?
If by some moral abhorrence some person in the United Nations could even consider that child abuse is part of their duties, the convention allows the Secretary General to waive immunity “in the interests of justice”.
What more justice can there be than protecting children from rape?
The United Kingdom must demand from the United Nations a permanent waiver of legal immunity for child sex crimes.
What better action by the UK Government could there be than to ask for the UN to have the best in class training, prevention, detection and prosecution mechanisms to stamp out child abuse by UN staff?

When it comes to child sex abuse in aid work, the Oxfam revelations are just the tip of the iceberg

Shocking revelations on BBC’s Newsnight on Friday 9 February saw former Oxfam head Dame Barbara Stocking admit that she “knew for years” after an internal Oxfam investigation that sexual exploitative behaviour has been going on at Oxfam. The behaviour included hiring prostitutes in earthquake-torn Haiti – who may have been underage – and downloading illegal material. It was revealed that the aid workers involved in such acts moved from aid job to aid job with spotless references.
Worse, Oxfam only reported accusations to its board, but not to prosecutors.
However, such behaviour is the tip of the iceberg.
There is a growing realisation that the worst of crimes – child abuse and child rape – make up a component of detailed and long-standing sex abuse accusations against UN and NGO aid workers, and peacekeeping soldiers. If you doubt this, have a look for yourself – I wrote about the lack of action but six months ago.
Oxfam is far from alone with sexual harassment, rape and child rape accusations. The problem is becoming more well known in the entire aid industry. The UK’s former National Criminal Intelligence Service, which registered and monitored the activities of paedophiles, warned as far back as 1999 that the scale of the problem of paedophiles in the aid world is on a level with sex tourism.
As disgusting as it might seem, as authorities crack down on paedophilia in the developed world, predatory paedophiles are now going to the developing world to gain access to children. According to authorities’ warnings, one of the paedophiles’ chosen methodologies to gain access to children is to join a children’s charity.
Shocking, but once you think about it, horribly easy to believe.
Surely then, child-related charities working overseas must have a higher than normal obligation to prevent, detect and prosecute predatory paedophiles who join their networks?
Yet, from the top, we have no leadership.
Kofi Anan and Ban Ki Moon, two former UN secretaries general, both list their failure to crack down on paedophilia as one of their professional regrets. The UN’s Field Support website lists ongoing accusations of sex abuse and ongoing accusations of child rape. The problem is not just a past problem – it is a present and future scourge that will threaten the entire aid industry if we don’t fix it.
This topic is difficult reading for many people. I understand people would rather shy away from the issue of child rape. Just in typing the words for this article I feel uncomfortable. One of the reasons that the Catholic Church avoided responsibility for so long is that it was too difficult for people, especially Catholics, to accept that their institution was responsible for covering up heinous acts.
Andrew Mitchell MP: ‘Oxfam must respond with complete transparency’
It is similar in aid.
I am a former aid worker and thus am part of a group on Facebook, “Fifty Shades of Aid”. This group is made up of former and current aid workers with almost 17,000 members. There has been a lot of discussion on the Oxfam revelations and the broader topic of sex abuse by aid workers.
There have been many good comments about the need to clean and fix the industry. But there have been other comments, including: “The allegations of child abuse here are speculated by the media and adding to the witch hunt mentality” and: “Please also remember that The Times is on a huge anti-aid tirade”.
Do some people hate aid? Yes. Do some right-wing libertarians want to rip down the whole aid system? Yes. But do you defend the aid system by hiding its biggest shame, child abuse? No.
I understand the “shoot the messenger” mentality. Many Catholics still feel that the Church has been unfairly targeted. Many aid workers will feel the same. But like many Catholics, many aid workers will, now and in the future, have to ask themselves: “What did I do to try and stop it?”
You can only defend the aid system by weeding out the problem. And the law does have a solution.
Sex tourism laws in Australia, UK, USA and elsewhere make it unlawful to have sex with a child anywhere in the world. But it is also a crime to aid, abet and counsel child sex crimes.
When are we finally going to realise that turning a wilful blind eye encourages these paedophiles? When will people like Dame Barbara Stocking, if they knew for years and did not report these people to police, realise that they are or should be guilty of a crime?
Former International Development Secretary Priti Patel understood this problem. Patel led an international effort at the last UN General Assembly to finally take this seriously. She proposed a new protocol of all accusations against UK nationals to be jointly investigated by the UN and UK prosecuting authorities. Where has this got to now Patel has gone?
Where is the new whistleblowing round-table to be hosted in the first half of 2018 in the UK, that Patel promised to the world last September? I am waiting to see what Patel’s successor at the Department for International Development (DFID), Penny Mordaunt, will do.
Organisations like Hear Their Cries are doing massively good work to raise awareness of the issue. However, celebrity aid ambassadors, such as Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie and others, should cease their ambassadorial roles until they have faith that the problem is fixed. This would bring it to the forefront.
The British people are rightly disgusted about the acts of child sex tourists – predatory paedophiles – and should be disgusted by the paedophiles that make their way in to the aid Industry, particularly because the British public are paying for aid workers to undertake their crimes.
While a sex tourist pays his or her own way to their favourite child hotspot, an aid worker is paid, insured, housed and flown by DFID, together with well-meaning and good people, donating their money in the hope that it will make someone else’s life better.
But we now need to take the bitter pill and have the hard discussions. Agencies we put faith in have a big problem, and the problem needs to be fixed.
Andrew MacLeod is a visiting professor to King’s College London, chairman of Griffin Law, and a former high-level UN official

Oxfam was told of aid workers raping and sexually exploiting children in Haiti a decade ago

Exclusive: CEO sent 2008 report warning of rape, assault and exploitation on ‘significant scale’ in Haiti
izzie Dearden Home Affairs Correspondent @lizziedearden
Aid agencies including Oxfam were warned that aid workers were sexually abusing children in Haiti a decade ago, The Independent can reveal.
Children as young as six were being coerced into sex in exchange for food and necessities, according to a damning report by Save the Children, which called for urgent action including the creation of a global watchdog.
Its research exposed abuse linked to 23 humanitarian, peacekeeping and security organisations operating in Haiti, Ivory Coast and what was then Southern Sudan.
Oxfam to appoint independent commission to investigate sex claims
Ex-Oxfam Haiti director denies prostitution allegations
Oxfam re-hired aid worker sacked over sexual misconduct in Haiti
“Our own fieldwork suggests that the scale of abuse is significant,” the report concluded. “Every agency is at risk from this problem ... existing efforts to keep children safe from sexual exploitation and abuse are inadequate.”
It identified “every kind of child sexual abuse and exploitation imaginable”, including rape, prostitution, pornography, sexual slavery, assaults and trafficking.
One 15-year-old girl in Haiti told how “humanitarian men” exposed themselves and offered her the equivalent of £2 to perform a sex act.
“The men call to me in the streets and they ask me to go with them,” said another Haitian girl. “They do this will all of us young girls.”
Oxfam executive director: ‘I’m appointing a high-level commission’
A six-year-old girl described being sexually assaulted and a homeless girl was given a single US dollar by a “man who works for an NGO” before being raped and severely injured, while boys were also reportedly raped.
When asked why the abuse was not reported, children said they feared losing aid, did not trust local authorities, did not know who to go to, felt powerless or feared stigma and retaliation. “The people who are raping us and the people in the office are the same people,” said one girl in Haiti.
by Taboola Sponsored Links Several children said they knew of cases where international aid workers had left the country while wanted by police, or where abusers had been disciplined or assigned to a different post.
The research took place in 2007, when Haiti was experiencing a food crisis driven by rocketing prices, natural disasters and climate change.
It was three years before the alleged sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff that has sparked national outcry and demands for change.
Corinna Csaky, who wrote the report, said an advance copy was sent to the CEO of Oxfam and all major international NGOs, adding: “In our cover letter we emphasised that our research revealed a sector wide problem but we didn’t implicate any one particular organisation by name.”
“Yes, you can have your code of conduct and policies and enforcement mechanisms but child protection is about educating women and girls about their rights, about knowing where to get help if you feel under threat, what is reasonable and what you can say no to.
“It’s the environment that makes abuse possible.”
Ms Csaky, a global child development adviser who no longer works for Save the Children, said that the charity was receiving “anecdotal” reports of sex abuse in the field more than a decade ago.
“It basically got to a stage where we thought ‘we need to find out more – how widespread is this?’” she added.
“What I found surprising was that it was a problem for every organisation, regardless of what they delivered, what kind of organisation they were.
“It was something everybody needed to take seriously and on a personal level just the sheer age of some of the victims, the lack of recourse and the sense of total and utter powerlessness on the part of them and their communities was shocking.”
Ms Csaky declined to name the 23 organisations implicated but said they were across the “full spectrum” of aid agencies, NGOs, peacekeeping forces and UN agencies.
“We organised events to talk about these issues and the solutions where all of these donors and implementers were parts of those conversations,” she added, saying the report sparked meetings and reforms within the UN.
It called for effective local complaints mechanisms for victims to combat “chronic underreporting”, a new global watchdog to monitor the international response and for governments to prioritise tackling the root causes of abuse.
A spokesperson for Oxfam said: “As a result of the Save the Children report, a senior member of Oxfam staff visited Haiti to assess the situation for himself and measures were put in place.
“However, these measures proved insufficient and could have been compromised by staff who were were later investigated by Oxfam and found guilty of misconduct.”
The British Government has demanded “absolute assurances” that all British charities operating abroad are protecting vulnerable people and referring complaints to authorities in the wake of revelations about Oxfam.
The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry and the International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, said Oxfam had agreed not to bid for new government funding until her department “is satisfied that they can meet the high standards we expect”.
“We want to ensure that programmes we are already financially committed to are being delivered appropriately by Oxfam or any other Dfid partner,” Ms Mordaunt said.
“Clearly Oxfam have a long way to go before they can regain the trust of the British public, their staff and the people they aim to help. The actions and attitude of the organisation over the coming weeks will be critical.
“I am determined that we do our utmost to prevent exploitation and abuse happening – and ensure that where it does happen it is identified and dealt with appropriately.”
Oxfam has pledged to publish an internal investigation it mounted in 2011 over allegations of sexual and other misconduct in Haiti, which resulted in several members of staff being sacked and others including the country director resigning.
As part of a plan to “stamp out abuse”, the charity is launching an independent review of its culture, creating a global database of accredited referees.
The reforms include more than doubling the number of people working in safeguarding while increasing annual funding to £720,000.
“What happened in Haiti and afterwards is a stain on Oxfam that will shame us for years, and rightly so,” said Oxfam International’s executive director, Winnie Byanyima.
“Right now I have two utmost priorities for Oxfam: continuing to provide support to the millions of vulnerable people we work with around the world, and learning vital lessons from our past mistakes to make sure such abuse and exploitation does not happen again.”
Oxfam GB’s chief executive Mark Goldring, who has resisted pressure to resign, said the charity had “betrayed people’s trust” and would work with the Government, the Charity Commission and others to reform.
More than 1,000 direct debits to the charity were cancelled over the weekend and the Government threatened to cut £31.7m annual public funding for Oxfam.
A report released on the future of international NGOs last year warned that they were being threatened by the actions of national governments delegating the response to increasingly “politicised” crises to their own agencies and militaries.
Andrew MacLeod, a former UN official, told The Independent the outrage sparked by the Oxfam scandal could be a “sustained turning point for change”, adding: “This isn’t an excuse to cut aid, this is an excuse to fix aid.”
Mr MacLeod, who represents a charity targeting sexual abuse by UN agencies, said: “It’s taken nine years to get to this point where we’re getting some change peacekeepers but the problem is far bigger than that ... this is an opportunity to reform the charity sector completely and permanently.”