Following the publication of the Charity Commission’s report into Oxfam GB, Chair of the International Development Committee, Stephen Twigg MP has issued the following comment:
"The Charity Commission report provides a powerful account of how the culture and practices of an organisation can go badly wrong. Quite simply, allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation were not treated with the seriousness they should have been, unacceptable behaviour was tolerated, and organisational reputation was given priority. Since 2017, Oxfam appear to have been earnest in their attempts to right these wrongs, but it is clear they have much further to go. It is imperative that they redouble their efforts and implement the recommendations made by the Charity Commission.
“It would be a mistake to see this as an issue involving one organisation alone. The International Development Committee’s report into sexual abuse and exploitation in the aid sector highlighted that similar cases have occurred in other parts of the aid sector and that it is a longstanding issue. The sector has a clear duty to face up to the challenge of ensuring that such serious wrongdoing is prevented and rooted out, and that it has robust safeguarding measures in place to support victims, survivors and whistleblowers in coming forward.
“The International Development Committee will continue to closely scrutinise progress on this issue. We expect to see root and branch reform, alongside the implementation of adequate safeguarding and reporting mechanisms. The voices of victims and survivors will need to be at the centre as new mechanisms are developed, to understand how power imbalances - which can prevent reporting - can be overcome. Self-regulation has clearly failed, therefore the creation of an independent international aid ombudsman would assist in holding aid organisations to account and demonstrating best practice.
“It is vital that the aid sector has the confidence of their staff, the public and national governments if they are going to continue in their aim of supporting development in the world’s poorest nations. Tackling sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation must be a core priority for the entire aid sector."
The International Development Committee published its report into sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector in July 2018 and has held follow up evidence sessions, most recently in May 2019.
Image: Charity Commission