CAFOD statement on safeguarding vulnerable communities
14 February 2018
Statement on safeguarding by CAFOD's director Chris Bain
The statement was released following accusations against former Oxfam staff members.
“We are deeply concerned about the recent news reports which have raised disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct by aid workers.
On 10 February, The Times newspaper reported that a current CAFOD employee was named as an Oxfam staff member who had been working in Haiti in 2011 and had been accused of sexual misconduct. We were unaware of allegations made against this employee until we were contacted by The Times. We received two references, as standard practice, including from his most recent employer, when he applied for the role in 2014. When we were made aware, we immediately put the staff member on leave to investigate in line with our Code of Behaviour protocol.
We can confirm that the individual has been dismissed today, 15 February 2018. Our review found that there have been no formal complaints of misconduct about the employee during his time at CAFOD. We requested and yesterday received a reference from Oxfam GB Headquarters which confirmed the allegations against him. His failure to disclose the circumstances of his departure from Oxfam are in breach of CAFOD’s Code of Behaviour.
We have also reviewed historical cases of sexual misconduct allegations against CAFOD employees. Since 2010, CAFOD has investigated and acted upon two cases related to sexual misconduct, both of which occurred overseas. The first investigation yielded no evidence to require disciplinary action, and in the second investigation we worked with local police authorities and the staff member was dismissed. This was reported to the Charity Commission.
Now more than ever, CAFOD is committed to a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct breaching our Code of Behaviour, including fraud, abuse, sexual misconduct, intimidation and other acts. We have robust safeguarding and whistle-blowing policies and practices in place, which are regularly reviewed, to ensure that vulnerable people are protected.
We regularly communicate this to our staff and provide mechanisms for confidential whistle-blowing. We work through trusted local partners overseas and have long-standing relationships with many of them. We have also joined an initiative with other UK-based overseas development agencies (BOND) and the Charity Commission to strengthen cross-sector information sharing and protection of vulnerable people.
Our mission to support people to live life to the fullest gives us a moral duty to their care - we will not let them down.”
CAFOD safeguarding pledges
Following the Safeguarding Summit co-hosted by DFID and the Charity Commission on 5 March 2018, CAFOD has made the following additional pledges:
- We have made all staff aware of the Code of Conduct that they have signed and has ensured that all training and appropriate checks are in place as appropriate for staff.
- We have commissioned an independent check of our safeguarding procedures to ensure we are doing the best we can in this area, especially in our support to partner organisations. This report will go to our Board of Trustees. Our policies were independently checked last year.
- We are actively working across the Caritas International confederation to have global procedures on complaints mechanisms and reference checks for employees
- We have already increased our resources on safeguarding and will review these further after the independent check.
Full statement and signatories from the Safeguarding Summit.