Following revelations of unacceptable behavior by humanitarian personnel at another NGO, Humanity & Inclusion has warned staff that such acts cannot be tolerated or justified under any circumstances.
This week, HI has reminded its staff of the importance of protecting beneficiaries, and the existence of whistleblowing procedures for reporting incidents that are detrimental to beneficiaries, corruption, or any other action in violation of the organization's rules.
These rules are defined in institutional policies that provide a detailed framework of conduct for staff employed by the organization. The institutional policy, "Protection of Beneficiaries from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)," available on HI's internal networks and on the internet in English and French, defines conduct deemed to be forms of unacceptable behavior and, if confirmed, subject to disciplinary action.
The PSEA policy is complemented by a child protection policy, designed to prevent harm to children, a gender policy, and an anti-fraud and corruption policy. These documents apply to all of the organization’s staff members and to partner organizations. Upon joining the organization, these policies are presented to each new staff member, who agrees to abide by them.
All staff members will receive a code of conduct within the next few days. Initiated almost a year ago, and applicable to all HI teams worldwide, this code of conduct is vital to the implementation of our institutional policies. It aims to protect all beneficiaries of HI's direct and indirect actions, and people from communities in contact with these actions, especially children, women, people with disabilities and anyone in a vulnerable situation.
All staff members (in the field or head offices) were also reminded of our whistleblowing mechanism, which can be used to report incidents contrary to our institutional policies, particularly those involving the abuse of beneficiaries. An online complaints mechanism is available in English and French for the use of individuals and also to organizations external to HI.
Over the coming weeks, HI will review all beneficiary protection and whistle blowing systems in order to identify any improvements that may be necessary to enhance their effectiveness.