Haiti leader: UK aid workers violated 'basic human decency'

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LONDON (AP) — Haiti's president condemned a British charity Tuesday for a sexual misconduct scandal in his country, describing the alleged misbehavior of aid workers assigned to earthquake recovery efforts as a violation of basic human decency.

 

The comments from President Jovenel Moise add to the condemnation anti-poverty charity Oxfam has received since the Times of London revealed that some staff members 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 in a statement released Tuesday. "What transpired is a violation of basic human decency."


Also Tuesday, Britain's charity watchdog opened an inquiry into how Oxfam handled allegations of sexual abuse in Haiti in 2011.


Documents provided by Oxfam have led to further questions and suggest 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."

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