LONDON (AP) — Haiti’s president condemned the British charity Oxfam on Tuesday for a sexual misconduct scandal, describing the alleged misbehavior of aid workers handling earthquake recovery efforts as a violation of basic human decency.
The comments from Haitian President Jovenel Moise add to the condemnation the anti-poverty charity has received since the Times of London revealed last week some Oxfam employees paid for sex while working in Haiti among people devastated by the 2010 earthquake.
“There is nothing more shameful than a sexual predator using the veil of catastrophe as a means to exploit the vulnerable in their most defenseless moments,” Moise said Tuesday. “What transpired is a violation of basic human decency.”
Also Tuesday, Britain’s charity watchdog opened an inquiry into how Oxfam handled the allegations of sexual abuse in Haiti in 2011.
Documents provided by Oxfam have led to further questions and suggest that the charity might not have “fully and frankly disclosed material details about the allegations at the time,” the Charity Commission said.
The investigation was launched a day after Oxfam Great Britain’s deputy chief executive resigned and apologized to the government and donors.
“Issues revealed in recent days are shocking and unacceptable,” commission Deputy Chief Executive David Holdsworth said. “It is important that we take this urgent step to ensure that these matters can be dealt with fully and robustly.”
Haiti’s president described the recent disclosures as “disheartening” since the British people gave money to help Haiti recover from the earthquake “with altruistic intent.”
“The people of Haiti were and are immensely thankful for the support the international community brought to us in the wake of our terrible tragedy in 2010, but that gratitude ought not to be mistaken for docility in the face of abhorrent violations such as these,” Moise said. “Disasters may strike, but a people’s dignity and rights persist.”
In another blow to the Oxfam brand, prosecutors in Guatemala said Tuesday that they had detained Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight, the chairman of Oxfam International. He was the country’s former finance minister under ex-President Alvaro Colom, who was arrested on corruption allegations with much of his entire former cabinet.
Oxfam International is a confederation of 20 organizations. The recent allegations concerning Haiti and Chad relate to Oxfam GB, one of the 20 affiliate organizations.