The former director of Oxfam in Haiti, at the center of a global sex abuse scandal, admitted that he had had sex with prostitutes on premises funded by the organization, according to a 2011 report by the NGO after an internal investigation made public Monday.
With two other leaders of the organization, the Belgian Roland van Hauwermeiren, 68, had to resign following allegations that the three men had bought the services of young prostitutes during their mission in Haiti, after the devastating earthquake of 2010.
Van Hauwermeiren defended himself last week by saying he had not organized orgies with young prostitutes and that he had “never entered a brothel” in Haiti. In a letter published by Belgian media, he only admitted to having sex with an “honorable and mature woman”, and maintained that he had not paid her money.
However, according to the 2011 internal report, which Oxfam released in a partly censored version on Monday, the Belgian official admitted to having had sex with prostitutes at his Haitian home, which was financed by Oxfam.
The NGO then chose to propose to its leader in Haiti a “dignified departure, provided that it cooperates fully with the rest of the investigation”.
The 2011 internal report concluded that “none of the original allegations of fraud, nepotism or recourse to underage prostitutes could be substantiated by the investigation” but that it “could not be excluded”, however, that at least one prostitute was a minor.
The report also states that three Oxfam employees “physically threatened” and “intimidated” one of their colleagues who was called to testify as part of the NGO’s internal investigation in 2011.
The NGO says it has chosen to make the report public to “be as transparent as possible about the decisions made during the investigation”. The also says that it has communicated the names of those suspected of inappropriate sexual behavior to the relevant authorities, and has sent a full report to the Haitian authorities, who announced Thursday that they want to conduct their own investigation.
The NGO unveiled on Friday a plan of action to prevent further sexual abuse and thus try to quell the controversy on a global scale.
In this case, the organization was also criticized for allowing the incriminated employees to join other NGOs, without warning. After Oxfam former employee, Roland van Hauwermeiren joined the French NGO Action contre la Faim in Bangladesh. The latter lamented not having been warned.