On April 30 of this year – one month ago – this writer posted a piece titled “Report: UN Peacekeepers Sexually Abuse Young Boys, Whistleblower Suspended.” The piece outlined the accusations made against French troops during a 2014 United Nations mission in Central African Republic who allegedly sexually abused refugee boys in their care. Once the accusations were initially investigated, a U.N. employee turned whistleblower sent a confidential internal report to French authorities because he feared the U.N. would do nothing to address the problem. For his trouble, Anders Kompass, the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights representative working in Geneva, was suspended. At the time, the Guardian in the United Kingdom picked up the story, but hardly any other outlets did.
Fast forward to a Friday information dump when the non-government organization that released the first report to the media, AIDS-Free World, released another report that actually has testimony from the young boys. What seemed to stun the mainstream media – led by the Associated Press – is that the documentation indicates the UN is more interested in silencing the whistleblower than addressing the sexual abuse:
No arrests have been announced, and it’s not clear where the accused soldiers, who were supporting a U.N. peacekeeping force, are now. The U.N. seems unable to say when the abuses stopped, or how long it continued to investigate.
On Friday, more documents were released by a non-governmental organisation run by two former U.N. staffers that’s calling for an independent investigation into the case. The documents show U.N. officials scrambling not so much to help a French inquiry into the allegations but to investigate the human rights staffer who told French authorities in the first place.
This passage comes from an Australian publication. The disbelief that fairly radiates from the piece relates directly to the United Nations having no formal protocol for reporting sexual abuse of children by staffers and peacekeepers. In addition, there were no statements from UNICEF, a spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, cast doubt on the authenticity of the documents, and claimed that Dujarric only knew of the allegations as of this spring even though the internal documents were developed in 2014 during the course of a U.N. investigation.
Adding to the confusion of just what the U.N. is up to when it comes to dealing with sexual abuse of children in the care of their representatives, Kompass’ suspension was lifted, but he still faces dismissal as the names of the victims were not redacted when he sent the initial internal documents to French authorities, which is a violation of protocol and the only one the U.N braintrust seems to be interested in making a priority. And then, to add insult to injury, the main contact for Africa working under Kompass, Miranda Brown, WAS dismissed from her position at the United Nations satellite in Geneva the day before she was to testify in support of Kompass in conjunction to the investigation.
In a separate May 23 letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Miranda Brown says her dismissal this month “bears all the hallmarks of retaliation.” Her letter says she was the acting director of the human rights office’s Africa branch, working directly under Kompass, shortly after the report with the children’s allegations reached the office’s Geneva headquarters last summer.
Brown’s letter says she was the “key contact” at the time between the office and the UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic. The mission included human rights staffers. The French soldiers were supporting the mission under a UN mandate.
Her letter notes the rumour that a second staffer, a woman, had also given the allegations to the French, and Brown says it wasn’t her. A confidential statement by Zeid dated late March, obtained by the AP, mentions “not one but possibly two sources.”
If the UN wants a complete investigation into how the child sexual abuse allegations were handled, it will need Brown’s testimony, her letter says.
There are additional details regarding Brown’s dismissal, Swiss law, and the UN still asking her to testify in the investigation. More or less, she is now exposed to defamation since her termination on May 21.
To say that the United Nations seems hell bent on blaming the messenger rather than acting on the message itself is not an understatement. For those who actually work with or under the United Nations, it’s par for the course.
The NGO that on Friday released internal U.N. documents related to the case, AIDS-Free World, called for an independent investigation into the way the allegations were handled from the start.
“The grim reality is that those with experience within the U.N. system are unlikely to be surprised,” its statement said. “They know that this is not an unusual case; it is simply one that has come, partially, to light.”
And that may well be why Anders Kompass and Miranda Brown are the targets of the big boys at the United Nations. For all their moral posturing and publicly shaming various countries and the Catholic Church over the same issues, it sounds like the U.N. has a sexual child abuse problem, and they are trying to keep a lid on it. If that is not the case, the secretaries general and other figureheads need to be forthcoming, and explain why not.