The UN whistleblower who exposed the sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers in Central African Republic has been completely exonerated after an internal investigation.
Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the office of the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva, was suspended and faced dismissal after he passed confidential documents detailing the abuse of children by French troops in CAR to the authorities in Paris because of the UN’s failure to stop the exploitation.
His exoneration comes just weeks after an independent panel report – set up by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, into the child sex scandal in CAR – ruled Kompass had done nothing wrong in passing the internal document, which contained interviews with victims and descriptions of the perpetrators, to the French.
The panel report condemned the “gross institutional failure” of the UN in its inaction over the allegations of child sexual abuse in CAR.
It was not until Kompass passed the report to the French that any investigation into the allegations began. French officials thanked him for what he had done, even as his employers pursued their investigation against him. The alleged abuses took place while French peacekeepers were supposed to be protecting civilians at a camp for internally displaced people near the airport in the capital, Bangui, between December 2013 and June 2014.
The confidential report – entitled Sexual Abuse of Children by International Armed Forces – contained details about the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeepers at the camp. The interviews with children had been carried out by a member of staff from the office of the high commissioner for human rights in 2014, and a staff member from Unicef, but no action had been taken by the UN and the information was not passed to the French until Kompass decided to act.
Last month, the independent panel’s report into the scandal was withering in its criticism of UN procedures when faced with the allegations that French peacekeepers – operating under the authorisation of the security council – were sexually abusing young children in CAR. The panel inquiry – led by the Canadian judge Marie Deschamps – found that children as young as nine were encouraged to take part in oral sex in exchange for food or money in the middle of the war zone.
Initial complaints in early 2014 were “passed from desk to desk, inbox to inbox, across multiple UN offices, with no one willing to take responsibility”, the report said. It said UN staff became overly concerned with whether the allegations had been improperly leaked to the French by Kompass, and focused on protocols rather than action.
Recognising Kompass’s seniority, extensive experience in field missions and the fact that human rights officials had not followed up the allegations despite the need for urgent action, the panel report said they could make no adverse finding against him. The panel criticised the then head of the OIOS, Carmen La Pointe, for abusing her authority by initiating the internal investigation into Kompass. She left her post last September after five years in office.