Oxfam: Former staff member dismissed by Cafod after abuse claims

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Wed, 02/14/2018 - 19:15Thu, 02/15/2018 - 00:00
Cafod said it was "unaware" of the claims until they were contacted by the Times, which broke the Oxfam story.
Cafod said it was "unaware" of the claims until contacted this week by the Times, which broke the Oxfam story.
It comes as a senior Oxfam figure says she is aware of past sex abuse claims against the charity's workers in Asia.
Meanwhile, Sengalese singer Baaba Maal has told BBC Newsnight he is standing down from his role as a global ambassador to Oxfam after six years.
Meanwhile, charity Doctors Without Borders said it had handled 24 cases of harassment or sexual abuse last year.
The star said he found the sex abuse claims "disgusting and heartbreaking".
In a statement Cafod, an international development charity, said employee had applied for the job in 2014.
Describing the allegations as "very sad", Maal said he was "disassociating" himself from Oxfam "immediately".
It said references were provided from the man's previous employers, as well as a written reference from somebody the man said was a former line manager from Oxfam.
Maal was one of 14 global ambassadors for Oxfam International.
Earlier this week, when Cafod became aware of the allegations, the staff member was put on leave while the charity investigated.
Others include singer Annie Lennox, the band Coldplay, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the model Helena Christensen.
He was dismissed on Wednesday when Oxfam confirmed claims he was among its workers who was working in Haiti in 2011 after the earthquake, and had been accused of sexual misconduct.
However, Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis defended Oxfam, calling it a "wonderful" charity.
In its statement Cafod said it was "committed to a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct" and the employee's failure to disclose the circumstances of his departure from Oxfam were in breach of its code of behaviour.
Speaking at the NME Awards, he said the festival had raised £6m for the charity, and planned to continue its support.
It added that it has not received any complaints about the employee during his tenure.
Mr Eavis added that "a few dodgy people" should not discredit its good work.
The charity has now also reviewed two historical cases of sexual misconduct allegations against other employees. One yielded no evidence and one saw a staff member dismissed.
Earlier, actress Minnie Driver stood down from her ambassador role with Oxfam, saying she was "nothing short of horrified" by the allegations.
The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into Oxfam - which denies covering up the behaviour of its staff in Haiti.
Pressure on Oxfam has been growing after allegations first arose last week about its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by its aid workers in Haiti.
It will publish details of its scope on Thursday.
The charity, which denies covering up the behaviour of its staff following an earthquake in the country in 2010, is being investigated by the Charity Commission.
It is also looking into claims that Roland van Hauwermeiren - the charity worker at the centre of the sexual misconduct scandal in Haiti - was employed by Oxfam two years after he left another aid agency because of concerns about his behaviour.
The charities regulator said it would announce the scope of its statutory inquiry into Oxfam on Thursday.
Oxfam said it would co-operate fully with the inquiry and recognised it was in the public interest to be "transparent and accountable and that lessons from 2011 are learned".
Oxfam said it would co-operate with the inquiry and recognised it was in the public interest to be "transparent and accountable" and that lessons are learned.
The charity's regional director in Asia for the last two years, Lan Mercado, has told the BBC she is aware of allegations of sexual abuse against staff in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal from 2009-2013.
It comes as Cafod, an international development charity, said it has sacked an employee implicated in claims sexually exploitation in Haiti.
She said the scale of misconduct was "not comparable" to that in Haiti and the incidents had been dealt with internally "according to specified policies", although the situation should not be defined as a "cover up".
The charity said the man had applied for the job in 2014.
However, Ms Mercado said more effort should be made to alert the authorities and other potential employers about allegations, adding: "The funny thing about cases like this is that we always see them as reputational risks."
References were provided from his previous employers and from somebody the worker said was a former line manager from Oxfam, Cafod added.
"The way to manage reputational risk is not to keep silent...we need to be thinking about the reputation of the sector as a whole," she added.
He was dismissed on Wednesday when Oxfam confirmed claims he was among its ex-workers who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
Earlier, actress Minnie Driver stood down from her role as a celebrity ambassador for Oxfam, saying she was "nothing short of horrified" by the allegations.
Cafod said it was "committed to a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct" and the employee's failure to disclose the circumstances of his departure from Oxfam were in breach of its code of behaviour.
Organisations including Marks & Spencer and the Duke of Edinburgh's (DofE) Award have also said they are considering their association with the charity.
The charity has also reviewed two historical cases of sexual misconduct allegations against other employees. One yielded no evidence and one saw a staff member dismissed.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt spoke to the National Crime Agency (NCA) about the Oxfam case.
In other developments:
She said she would "not hesitate" to cut government funding to charities that failed to put robust safeguarding measures in place and Oxfam's failure to deal with the actions of some of its staff should be a "wake-up call".
Speaking to the BBC, Oxfam's regional director in Asia for the last two years, Lan Mercado, revealed she is aware of allegations of sexual abuse against staff in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal from 2009-2013.
The NCA said it had range of powers to investigate allegations abroad and would be considering how it can assist with "international safeguarding considerations".
Ms Mercado said the scale of misconduct was "not comparable" to that in Haiti and while it had been dealt with internally "according to specified policies", it would be wrong to say the incidents were covered up.
  
But she said alerting the authorities and other charities about allegations was a "practice that we need to start".

A Catholic charity has sacked a worker after it emerged he had been accused of sexually exploiting vulnerable people in Haiti while working for Oxfam.
Cafod said it was "unaware" of the claims until contacted this week by the Times, which broke the Oxfam story.
Meanwhile, Sengalese singer Baaba Maal has told BBC Newsnight he is standing down from his role as a global ambassador to Oxfam after six years.
The star said he found the sex abuse claims "disgusting and heartbreaking".
Describing the allegations as "very sad", Maal said he was "disassociating" himself from Oxfam "immediately".
Maal was one of 14 global ambassadors for Oxfam International.
Others include singer Annie Lennox, the band Coldplay, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the model Helena Christensen.
However, Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis defended Oxfam, calling it a "wonderful" charity.
Speaking at the NME Awards, he said the festival had raised £6m for the charity, and planned to continue its support.
Mr Eavis added that "a few dodgy people" should not discredit its good work.
Earlier, actress Minnie Driver stood down from her ambassador role with Oxfam, saying she was "nothing short of horrified" by the allegations.
Pressure on Oxfam has been growing after allegations first arose last week about its handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by its aid workers in Haiti.
The charity, which denies covering up the behaviour of its staff following an earthquake in the country in 2010, is being investigated by the Charity Commission.
The charities regulator said it would announce the scope of its statutory inquiry into Oxfam on Thursday.
Oxfam said it would co-operate with the inquiry and recognised it was in the public interest to be "transparent and accountable" and that lessons are learned.
It comes as Cafod, an international development charity, said it has sacked an employee implicated in claims sexually exploitation in Haiti.
The charity said the man had applied for the job in 2014.
References were provided from his previous employers and from somebody the worker said was a former line manager from Oxfam, Cafod added.
He was dismissed on Wednesday when Oxfam confirmed claims he was among its ex-workers who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
Cafod said it was "committed to a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct" and the employee's failure to disclose the circumstances of his departure from Oxfam were in breach of its code of behaviour.
The charity has also reviewed two historical cases of sexual misconduct allegations against other employees. One yielded no evidence and one saw a staff member dismissed.
In other developments:
Speaking to the BBC, Oxfam's regional director in Asia for the last two years, Lan Mercado, revealed she is aware of allegations of sexual abuse against staff in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal from 2009-2013.
Ms Mercado said the scale of misconduct was "not comparable" to that in Haiti and while it had been dealt with internally "according to specified policies", it would be wrong to say the incidents were covered up.
But she said alerting the authorities and other charities about allegations was a "practice that we need to start".