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Haiti suspends Oxfam operations pending sex scandal probe

Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring (C), Oxfam Chair of Trustees Caroline Thomson (R) and Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima (L)

– Greater scrutiny –

Oxfam formally apologized to the Haitian government on Monday for its handling of the scandal and for failing to report it promptly to local authorities.

“It was not for Oxfam to decide whether a crime had been committed… that was the wrong decision,” Oxfam GB’s chief executive Mark Goldring said Tuesday at a hearing before a British parliamentary committee.

Fleurant, the planning minister, said he had not ruled out demanding the extradition of Van Hauwermeiren and others to face charges in Haiti.

“There could be an extradition: we could call for them to be brought back to Haiti,” he said, adding that if that did not succeed “we could bring a civil action, or help the victims do so.”

The strong line taken by the government was met with approval by Haitian human rights groups.

“It’s a good decision and it also sends the right message to other NGO’s operating in the mess of Haiti,” said Haitian lawyer Mario Joseph, while warning that such talk “could be much ado about nothing if all the means to carry out an inquiry are not deployed to bring these people to justice.”

The Haiti scandal has opened the charity to greater scrutiny, leading to 26 new cases of sexual misconduct, most involving its international operations.

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