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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 staff, including Board Members, interns, volunteers, and visitors as well as partners, suppliers, service providers, and consultants are:

  • Expected to treat all people with whom they have contact with respect, to actively prevent all forms of harassment, abuse, and exploitation, including all forms of sexual misconduct and trafficking, and to ensure our programs do no harm to the communities in which we work
  • Prohibited from facilitating or aiding another humanitarian worker’s harassing, abusive or exploitative behavior—whether tied to CRS or not
  • Obliged to report any concern or suspicion of harassment, abuse 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, affiliates, partners, suppliers, service providers, and community members can report harassment and safeguarding concerns, protected from the threat of retaliation.  All reports trigger prompt and thorough assessment which may include investigation, and any substantiated violation of our policy results in appropriate action, which may include 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 and humanitarian sector to make sure we have ways to prevent perpetrators from being hired into other agencies.

Read the full text of the CRS Safeguarding policy.

View our FY2022 Safeguarding ReportFY2021 Safeguarding Report.


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

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.

Likewise, CRS is committed to work only with organizations-including partners, suppliers and service providers, including consultants--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, suppliers and service provider, 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. This includes, but is not limited to, harassment based on race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or handicap, medical condition, protected veteran status, or genetic information and any other status protected by law.


Bullying is defined as persistent and repeated mistreatment of one or more targeted persons by one or more perpetrators and includes (but is not limited to) threats; intimidation; public humiliation/name-calling; persistent and unwelcome teasing; abuse or use of power to undermine, humiliate or denigrate; intentional work interference/sabotage; or stalking.

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; verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature; or any other behavior of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected/perceived to cause offense or humiliation to another and when such conduct interferes with work; is made a condition of employment; or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Abuse and Exploitation 

Exploitation is the use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position of vulnerability; or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person.

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 actual or attempted abuse of position of vulnerability, differential power or trust, for sexual purposes, including but not limited to profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

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.


Abuse is a deliberate act of ill treatment that can harm a person’s safety, well-being, dignity and development. It often involves individuals who have a relationship of responsibility and care for the victim including project staff, parents, guardians, teachers, community workers, healthcare providers, religious leaders, friends or other children. Forms of abuse include sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect/negligent treatment.


Trafficking in persons is defined as the recruitment, transportation, or receipt of persons by means of deception, coercion, threat, or force for the purpose of exploitation, such as labor, prostitution, or sexual exploitation. 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, affiliates, partners, suppliers, and service providers 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, affiliates, partners, suppliers, and service providers are also prohibited from employment practices related to trafficking as well as knowingly obtaining work-related goods or services that have been provided or produced by trafficked or forced labor.

CRS Protects Resources

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.



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.