Oxfam Haiti Sex Abuse Witnesses Threatened

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A previously unpublished Oxfam report has revealed how three men accused of sexual misconduct in Haiti physically threatened witnesses during an internal investigation.

The charity released a redacted version of the findings of a 2011 report after a leaked copy was published on Sunday, prompting a storm of criticism over how the episode was handled.

Parts of the 11-page document are blacked out to hide people’s identities, including the names of the three men accused of intimidating witnesses.

Oxfam’s investigation concluded charities should be warned about “problem staff” – only for several accused of abuse to successfully take up future posts in the aid sector.

The charity made the recommendations at the end of a report which detailed four dismissals and three resignations over allegations ranging from the use of prostitutes on charity property to sexual exploitation of employees.

Suspicions that under-age sex workers had been exploited “cannot be ruled out”, according to the document.

On Sunday evening Oxfam repeatedly refused to clarify whether it had contacted any of the women allegedly preyed upon, either during or since the investigation.

The charity said it released the report to be “as transparent as possible” about the decisions it made and has vowed to meet with the Haitian government more than six years on to apologise for “mistakes” and discuss how to make amends, including to the women affected.

It said in a statement: “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.

“We hope this also contributes to rebuilding trust with those who support our work,” it added.

Relief staff had been stationed on the Caribbean island to provide support in the aftermath of an earthquake which killed thousands of people in 2010.

The report alleges the director of operations in the country, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, admitted using sex workers in his charity-funded accommodation and was granted a “phased and dignified exit”. Last week he denied ever using prostitutes in Haiti.

A section entitled “lessons learned action plan” sets out the need for tighter safeguarding across the industry to stop disgraced aid workers moving to new posts.

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