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CRS Statement on Safeguarding

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) works in some of the most difficult and volatile areas of the world, and we are committed to creating and maintaining an environment which promotes its core value of human dignity and prevents abuse and exploitation of its employees, partners and beneficiaries.

CRS employees are:

  • Prohibited from engaging in any form of harassment, discrimination, physical or verbal abuse, intimidation, favoritism, or exploitative relationships 
  • Prohibited from facilitating or aiding another humanitarian worker’s harassing or exploitative behavior—whether tied to CRS or not
  • Obliged to report any concern or suspicion of harassment or exploitation   

To ensure that we hold ourselves to the highest standards, we have rigorous policies and systems in place to ensure that our staff can report harassment and protection concerns, protected from the threat of retaliation.  All reports trigger prompt and thorough investigations.  And any violation of our policies results in appropriate action, including termination of employment and reporting to the appropriate local authorities.

CRS will not knowingly provide a positive referral for anyone terminated for cause and is committed to working with our colleague organizations in the development sector to make sure we have ways to prevent perpetrators from being hired into other agencies.

An Overview of CRS Safeguarding Policy related to Abuse, Exploitation, Harassment, Human Trafficking and Sexual Harassment

Safeguarding is the responsibility that all organizations have to ensure that their Staff and programs honor and protect the rights and dignity of all people-especially children and vulnerable adults-to live free from abuse and harm.

At Catholic Relief Services (CRS), this responsibility is paramount given that safeguarding is seen as in integral part of the mission and values of the Catholic Church and one that is firmly rooted in our belief that each individual has a unique worth created in the image and likeness of God.

CRS is committed to creating and maintaining an environment-both in our workplace and in our projects-that promotes our core values and prevents the abuse and exploitation of all with whom we interact. Abuse and exploitation constitute acts of serious misconduct and are therefore grounds for disciplinary action including termination and, as relevant, notification to specific donors and/or appropriate law enforcement authorities.

CRS employees, consultants, and volunteers are expected to treat all people with whom they have contact with respect, to actively prevent harassment, abuse and exploitation, and to ensure our programs do no harm to the communities in which we work.

Likewise, CRS is committed to work only with organizations-including partners, vendors, and suppliers--who are equally committed to the dignity of individuals and equally vigilant to preventing and addressing abuse and exploitation.

In addition, CRS is committed to ensuring that program participants-and members of communities in which they live-are aware of what staff behavior is acceptable and how they can raise their concerns or questions in a confidential and secure manner.

All CRS Staff are obligated to report any concerns or suspicions of harassment, abuse and exploitation involving CRS Staff, partners, beneficiaries, vendors or aid workers associated with another organization.

All reports will be promptly investigated and addressed and treated with due regard for the privacy of the individuals involved. Any form of retaliation is grounds for disciplinary action including termination.


Harassment is defined as unwanted, unwelcomed and uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens or offends and results in a hostile environment for the victim. This includes, but is not limited to, harassment based on ethnicity, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, disability, medical condition, marital status, or veteran status. General harassment can also include bullying, intimidation and mistreatment.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a specific type of harassment which can cross age and gender boundaries and may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature.

Abuse and Exploitation

Exploitation is defined as actual or attempted abuse of power or mistreatment based on a power differential and/or position of vulnerability-is unacceptable under any circumstances but is particularly abhorrent when it involves CRS beneficiaries, children, or vulnerable adults.

Prohibited exploitation includes of child labor, that is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.

Prohibited exploitation also includes sexual exploitation, defined as any sexual relations with children and vulnerable adults including the exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, sexual favors or other forms of humiliating behavior or preferential treatment. Sexual relations between aid workers and beneficiaries (of any age) are prohibited and is grounds for termination.

In addition, knowingly facilitating or aiding another aid worker to perform acts of exploitation or abuse is strictly prohibited and will be treated with the same level of consequence as if the activity was being done directly by CRS Staff.


Trafficking in persons is defined as the recruitment, transportation, or receipt of persons by means of deception, coercion, threat, or force for exploitation, sexual or otherwise. CRS strongly condemns trafficking in human beings-children, women, and men-as a criminal act that violates fundamental human rights and the inviolable dignity and integrity of the human person.

All CRS Staff are prohibited from engaging in trafficking in children, women and men. CRS places a special focus on anti-trafficking of women and children, given their specific vulnerability and given the cruelty and perversity to which trafficked women and children are particularly subjected.

All CRS Staff are also prohibited from employment practices related to trafficking as well as Staff obtaining work-related goods or services that have been provided or produced by trafficked or forced labor.


Consistent with CRS' Guiding Principles, all employees are responsible for the good stewardship of all CRS resources, including public/private support and any Federal funds in the form of a grant or contract, which enables CRS to continue its mission. The organization's internal controls and operating procedures are intended to detect, prevent and deter improper activities and misuses of those resources. Unintentional or intentional violations of internal controls and operating procedures and/or of laws and regulations are to be reported. to report suspected financial and accounting misconduct and/or fraudulent activity in accordance with this policy. CRS will investigate allegations of misconduct and protect those individuals who in good faith report such allegations.

I. Accounting and Auditing

  1. Fraud or deliberate error in the preparation, evaluation, review or audit of any financial statement of the organization.
  2. Fraud or deliberate error in the recording and maintaining of financial records.
  3. Deficiencies in compliance with the organization's internal accounting controls.
  4. Misrepresentation or false statements to or by a senior officer, employee or accountant regarding a matter contained in financial records, financial reports or audit reports.
  5. Deviations from full and fair reporting of the organization's financial position.
  6. Any fraud or violation of law, rule, or regulation relating to acts of financial misconduct of the Agency or related to a Federal contract or grant (including the competition for, or negotiation of, a contract or grant).

II. Embezzlement/Fraud

Misuse of agency funds for personal gain, whether money, property, or assets.

III. Falsification of Contracts, Reports or Records

Altering, fabricating, falsifying, or forging all or any parts of a document, contract, or record.

IV. Improper Supplier or Contractor Activity

Negotiation, alteration or illegal activity with suppliers or contractor awards.

V. Partners’ Inappropriate Use of Resources

Use of agency or donated resources such as cash, food, commodities, materials for purposes other than those intended.

VI. Kickbacks, Bribery

Pay or giving anything of value to a government official, directly or indirectly, to secure improper advantage.

VII. Theft

VIII. Substantial and Specific Danger to Public Health or Safety

IX. Gross Mismanagement/Gross Waste of Award Funding, Federal Funds or Grants 

X. Abuse of Authority Related to a Federal Contract or Grant

XI. Other Illegal or Criminal Use of Agency Property or Assets

To report an incident of harassment, violation of abuse or exploitation, trafficking of humans or financial misconduct, you may do so at EthicsPointTM.