Whistleblower cleared in CAfrican Republic sex abuse case

AP News
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Posted: Jan 18, 2016 7:49 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations' internal justice system has cleared a whistleblower who leaked information to French authorities in 2014 about a U.N. investigation into accusations that French soldiers in Central African Republic had sexually abused some children they were sent to protect.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday that the Office of Internal Oversight Services had written to Anders Kompass "and they've confirmed that the cases against him are now closed."

U.N. officials had accused Kompass, a Swede who was the operations director for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, of breaching policy by not redacting the children's names.

He was suspended in April 2015 and reinstated a month later by the U.N. Dispute Tribunal, but he still faced an internal investigation.

Last month, Kompass was exonerated by an independent panel appointed to review the U.N.'s handling of allegations of child sexual abuse by French soldiers in Central African Republic.

The panel, led by Canadian judge Marie Deschamps, said the United Nations' "gross institutional failure" to act on allegations that French and other peacekeepers sexually abused children in Central African Republic led to even more assaults.

It dismissed the argument that Kompass had breached U.N. policy, finding instead that the former head of the U.N. internal watchdog, Carmen La Pointe, abused her authority in improperly opening an investigation of Kompass in response to the "single-minded determination" of the U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Raad al-Hussein.

If the concerns about redacting the names and protecting the children from possible reprisals were real, the panel said, the U.N. would have acted to offer protection. "Instead, no one took any steps whatsoever to locate the children," it said.

Haq, the U.N. spokesman, told reporters when asked about Kompass' exoneration and whistleblowers, that "we continue to see what we can learn from this and how we can do better."

"The secretary-general believes that all staff should be encouraged to come forward," he said. The fact that Kompass was cleared by the internal justice system "is a sign that we hope staff take to heart, that the internal justice system does, in fact, work."

France is still investigating the allegations against its soldiers.

New allegations of alleged sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in the impoverished and violence-torn Central African Republic continue to surface, the latest earlier this month involving four underage girls which the U.N. is investigating.