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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Whistleblower Transferred from Geneva to Fiji in Retaliation for Disclosure of Misconduct

May 07, 2015
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(WASHINGTON) – Miranda Brown, a senior official at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva and a whistleblower, is to be involuntarily transferred by May 13th to Suva, Fiji, one of the farthest duty stations from Geneva. Brown was removed from her position at the OHCHR in December 2014, and subsequently transferred to Fiji, amidst rumors that her post there would soon be abolished or transferred to some unknown location.

In her previous position as a Strategic Adviser to Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Brown disclosed serious, and possibly criminal, misconduct on the part of Gurry himself and requested an investigation. The disclosure and request were both considered by officials subordinate to Gurry and were denied. Brown asserts, and GAP agrees, that her subsequent transfer to the OHCHR failed to impede ongoing retaliation, which followed her from one UN agency to the other.

Miranda Brown’s situation worsened today even as the United Nations Dispute Tribunal slapped down the OHCHR for its treatment of Anders Kompass, the Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, now also viewed as a whistleblower. In an inexplicable maneuver, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, suspended Kompass in April, eight months after he gave evidence of criminal conduct on the part of French troops in the Central African Republic to the French mission.

Together, the Brown and Kompass cases indicate that neither WIPO nor the OHCHR competently handle disputes involving criminal acts. In one case, alleged crimes went unreported until Brown exposed them, but she was subsequently subjected to a career-wrecking personnel decision in an effort to silence her.  In the other, eight months after Kompass reported serious crimes against children to law enforcement, he was accused of ‘leaking’ and asked to resign. After he refused, he was suspended.

At the same time, yesterday, David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression at the OHCHR, published this joint statement in support of whistleblowing.

Individuals who expose wrongdoing, serious maladministration, a breach of human rights, humanitarian law violations or other threats to the overall public interest, for example in terms of safety or the environment, should be protected against legal, administrative or employment-related sanction, even if they have otherwise acted in breach of a binding rule or contract, as long as at the time of the disclosure they had reasonable grounds to believe that the information disclosed was substantially true and exposed wrongdoing or the other threats noted above.

Bea Edwards, Executive Director and International Programs Director at the Government Accountability Project, stated:

"Both Miranda Brown and Anders Kompass would be beneficiaries of this commitment to whistleblowers, were the High Commissioner for Human Rights to actually implement it. But based on the OHCHR’s track record of retaliation against those who report abuse and illegality, it will take a substantial push to see any positive changes."

Contact: Andrew Harman, Communications Director
Phone: (202) 457-0034 ext. 156

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. GAP was consulted by U.N. management when the organization created its initial protection against retaliation policy and has advised several staff associations within the U.N. system about whistleblower protections.



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