Thursday, 09 June 2016

Citing Officials' “Impunity” on Child Sex Abuse, UN Whistleblower Quits

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United Nations whistleblower Anders Kompass (shown), a human-rights official who exposed international so-called peacekeepers raping and exploiting children in Africa on a UN “peace” mission, announced this week that he would be leaving the scandal-plagued international organization for good. Citing the “complete impunity” for officials and the “lack of accountability” that is “entrenched” in the UN, Kompass said it was “impossible” for him to continue working there. The implications of the resignation for the UN are enormous, and suggest that the problems plaguing the organization are systemic.  

Over the past year, Kompass has become something of a symbol to fellow UN whistleblowers, U.S. lawmakers, child advocates, human-rights workers, and more. While serving as field operations director at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2014, the Swedish national became aware of brutal sexual abuse and exploitation against children in the Central African Republic by international “peacekeeping” troops on a UN “peace” mission authorized by the UN Security Council. Young children, some under 10 years old, were being raped, abused, and more. The UN responded by doing nothing, except trying to keep the grotesque scandal under wraps.  

Realizing that nothing was being done to protect the children, Kompass handed the information to French prosecutors. From there, his life was turned upside down. Instead of receiving a medal for his efforts to stop the abuse of children by “peace” troops, he was escorted from his office under armed guard, with his superiors claiming he had violated “protocol.” Later, leaked e-mails revealed that the highest echelons of the UN bureaucracy met secretly in Turin, Italy, in an effort to destroy him. A formal investigation was launched against him by the UN Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). Kompass was suspended, too.  

Eventually, after the case became a global scandal and gave the UN the equivalent of a major black eye worldwide, Kompass was officially cleared of wrongdoing by an allegedly independent panel. The probe, which blasted what it called “gross institutional failure,” slammed senior UN bosses, saying, among other concerns, that they had “abused their authority.” But despite lots of grandstanding from UN chiefs once the scandal hit the headlines, nobody was ever truly held accountable. For Kompass, that was too much to bear. So, after decades at the UN, he has resigned. He will be stepping down in August, before the end of his contract, and reportedly taking a job at the Swedish foreign ministry.  

He is also speaking out publicly. “The complete impunity for those who have been found to have, in various degrees, abused their authority, together with the unwillingness of the hierarchy to express any regrets for the way they acted towards me sadly confirms that lack of accountability is entrenched in the United Nations,” Kompass told IRIN News, a humanitarian-focused news service that covers the UN and other international organizations. “This makes it impossible for me to continue working there.... It was a very hard decision for me to take, after a total of 21 years of service with the United Nations, but one that I feel was unavoidable.”

In addition to impunity for top officials who cover up sexual abuse and punish whistleblowers who try to stop it, the brutality of UN forces continues to shock the world. Since the first child-rape scandals in the Central African Republic came to light, more than 100 additional cases of sexual abuse by armed UN troops and officials have been reported in that country — again, mostly targeting children. As The New American has documented extensively over a period of decades, though, the brutality of UN forces that rape and abuse women and children in UN “peacekeeping” missions appears to be systemic. UN and “African Union” troops in CAR have also been involved in various killings, burying their victims in mass graves.  

But critics are speaking out louder and louder. Outside watchdog groups focused on the UN seized on news of Kompass' resignation to demand further investigations and reform. Paula Donovan with the Code Blue campaign, which is working to stop sexual abuse by UN peacekeeping forces, told IRIN News that the UN and its attitude had left the UN human-rights official no choice but to step down. “I’m not sure how you can work with a system that’s gone out of its way to prove it can defeat anyone who tries to expose it,” she was quoted as saying. “Despite the platitudes, the assertions of intolerance for wrongdoing, it’s all just empty phrases.”

UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog group, went even further, calling for apologies and investigations. “The UN keeps saying their policy is 'zero tolerance' yet what we see from the top down is the opposite: a neglect of the women and children who are abused by peacekeepers, and a policy of giving impunity to the abusers,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the organization, calling on UN chief Ban Ki Moon to investigate the UN's human-rights bureaucracy. He also called on Ban and human-rights boss Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad Al Hussein to both “fully apologize to Mr. Kompass, who is a hero for trying to protect abused children, in contrast to other UN officials, including at the highest levels, who did everything to protect both governments and their own careers.”

Instead of apologizing, however, Zeid, who has repeatedly lashed out at the constitutionally protected rights of Americans under the guise of pushing “human rights,” has stood firm in his errors. In fact, the UN human-rights chief “is still vocally, publicly refusing to acknowledge what Anders [Kompass] did was appropriate, and what he [Zeid] did was wrong and retaliatory,” Bea Edwards with the Government Accountability Project (GAP), which seeks to protect the rights of whistleblowers, told IRIN. “The point of whistleblowing is that somebody will be held responsible for criminal misconduct,” Edwards explained. “Those that have taken the risk to report should be protected, commended and rewarded.”

Indeed, the UN has come under major fire in recent months over its ongoing and systematic persecution of whistleblowers who expose everything from child rape and exploitation to corruption and the transfer of technology to tyrants. The situation has become so bad — and so obvious — that the U.S. Congress was forced to hold hearings into the issue of UN retaliation against those who blow the whistle earlier this year. American lawmakers praised UN whistleblowers, including Kompass, during and after the hearings. They also threatened to cut off funding for UN agencies unless and until proper protections were put in place. So far, though, as Kompass' resignation shows, the problems continue, and impunity reigns.   

The UN, of course, increasingly views itself as the “Parliament of Humanity,” as Secretary-General Ban has put it on multiple occasions in recent months. However, from the scandals that have surfaced just in that time period — from the persecution of whistleblowers to the rape of children — it is clear that empowering the UN with any semblance of additional authority would be dangerous in the extreme. Rather than continuing to make American taxpayers complicit in the UN's gross abuses of human rights and common decency, Congress should take serious action to stop it.

The problems with the UN are systemic, however. In one town in the Ivory Coast occupied by UN forces, a survey revealed that eight out of ten underage girls admitted to being raped and exploited by UN “peace” troops. Similar horrors by armed UN “peace” enforcers have been reported from Asia to the Americas and everywhere in between. Yet instead of holding anyone accountable for the barbarism and savagery, the UN has shown on repeated occasions that it is more interested in crushing those who blow the whistle. Enough is enough.

Continuing to force American taxpayers at this point to pay for the UN, ridiculed by critics as the “dictators club,” is unconscionable. Lawmakers must take serious measures rather than issuing empty threats of partial de-funding. A bill sitting in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act, would end U.S. government membership in, and funding for, the entire UN. It would also evict the UN's headquarters from U.S. soil. For the sake of the UN's victims around the world, it is way past time for the bill to become law.

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Photo: AP Images

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU.

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