Swedish whistleblower’s suspension lifted by UN

Swedish whistleblower's suspension lifted by UN
Swedish UN worker Anders Kompass. Photo: AP Photo/Moises Castillo
A UN tribunal has ordered the reinstatement of Swedish official Anders Kompass who was suspended for leaking a report to France about child abuse by French soldiers sent to the Central African Republic in 2014.

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The ruling of the internal tribunal was delivered on Tuesday and Kompass “has thus resumed his service”, a spokesman for the UN human rights office told the AFP news wire.

Aleksander Gabelic, chairman of NGO the United Nations Association of Sweden, welcomed the decision but slammed UN officials for their handling of the situation.

"It is welcome that the UN is with immediate effect ordered to terminate the suspension. The decision shows that there are question marks surrounding the say in which UN leadership has managed this case," he told Swedish news wire TT late on Wednesday.

Kompass will however continue to face an internal UN probe following accusations that he passed on confidential information, including the names of alleged victims, without getting the go-ahead of his superiors.

“We remain extremely concerned that copies are circulating of the confidential unredacted preliminary notes of the interviews with the children,” the spokesman said.

The UN tribunal said the fact that Kompass had resumed his job would not affect the investigation underway.

Kompass, who works for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), was put on administrative leave with full pay on April 17th for having passed on the confidential report to France in July last year.

According to the French defence ministry, soldiers dispatched to the chaos-ridden nation to restore order after a 2013 coup are implicated in a probe into the alleged sexual abuse of several children there who had begged for food.

The abuse reportedly took place at a centre for displaced people near the airport of the Central African capital Bangui between December 2013 and June 2014.

The accusations were serious enough for a secret French investigation to be launched in July last year but British newspaper The Guardian reported on the affair at the end of April.

According to a copy of the UN tribunal's ruling, Kompass said he had received a copy of the report in mid-July and spoke to a French diplomat about it on July 23rd.

He then said he had spoken to one of his bosses about this shortly afterwards and then passed on a copy of the report to French authorities on August 7th.

The UN however rejects his version of events. The UN human rights office says it was only made aware of the leak on March 6th this year.

Only one thing is clear so far – that Kompass was asked on March 12th to resign, something that he refused to do. He was suspended on April 17th and then Kompass sought an annulation of the order.