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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Anders Kompass Cleared: UN Official Who Reported Child Sexual Abuse by Peacekeepers Speaks Out

Bea Edwards, January 19, 2016

The Government Accountability Project (GAP), which has worked with UN whistleblowers over the past decade, is relieved to know that the United Nations has finally ended its investigation of Anders Kompass and cleared him of misconduct. GAP is concerned, though, that neither the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) nor the Office of the Secretary General, which subjected Kompass to this nine-month ordeal, have taken any steps to mitigate the damage done to his career and reputation.

In July, 2014, Anders Kompass, the Director of the Foreign Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD) of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), received a report written by a human rights officer in the Central African Republic (CAR). The report contained compelling evidence of the rape and apparently ongoing sexual abuse of boys by French peacekeeping troops at a camp for those displaced by violent conflict in the CAR. Kompass gave the report confidentially to the French Mission at the UN in Geneva for onward transmission to French law enforcement, the only agency with the authority to address the abuse expediently and effectively. 

Within days of receiving the report, French prosecutors started investigating.

Eight months later, Kompass was asked to resign by the Deputy High Commissioner for ‘leaking’ the report. When he refused, senior officials – including those responsible for independent oversight at the UN – gathered to decide collectively what to do. Ultimately, they placed Kompass under investigation for an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

Over the course of 2015, Kompass was subjected to a review of his actions by a three-person external panel and an OIOS investigation, both lasting over nine months. Further, he was suspended from his post, a decision taken – for reasons unknown – by the High Commissioner himself, Zeid Ra’an al Hussein, and reversed by the UN Dispute Tribunal as unwarranted. The suspension was also questioned by the external panel, which pointed out that Zeid’s explanation for Kompass’ suspension was irrational.

On December 17, 2015, Kompass was exonerated by the external panel, which excoriated Zeid and the UN bureaucracy, and on January 8th, 2016, OIOS notified Kompass that its investigation had also cleared him of leaking. 

During the past year, UN officials, especially Zeid, publicly and privately maligned Kompass and his actions on behalf of the children by claiming – absurdly – that he had endangered them by reporting the assaults they alleged to law enforcement. Meanwhile, Kompass could not speak publicly in his own defense because of the ongoing investigation.

Now that the investigation is over and he is exonerated, however, Anders Kompass speaks to Sandra Laville of The Guardian for the first time about the past year.