Swedish minister slams UN over abuse leak case

Swedish minister slams UN over abuse leak case
Sweden's foreign minister, Margot Wallström. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT
Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström has hit out at the United Nations over its temporary suspension of Swedish whistleblower Anders Kompass.

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Kompass was put on administrative leave in April this year for leaking a report to France about alleged child abuse by French soldiers sent to the Central African Republic in 2014.

The controversial suspension of the Swedish whistleblower stirred debate across the globe a UN tribunal ordered the diplomat's reinstatement last month.

Sweden's foreign minister, who is currently in Johannesburg to speak at a meeting of the African Union, slammed the organization for its handling of the case in an interview with Swedish public broadcaster SVT late on Sunday.

“It hurts the credibility of the entire UN when something like this happens. You could question the whole treatment of the case in Geneva and the way they have handled Anders Kompass,” she said.

Wallström, who has made a name for herself as an unusually outspoken foreign minister, rarely minces her words on the world diplomacy stage, something which has caused headlines more than once.

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She told SVT she had received support for an independent investigation of the way the UN acted in the case of the Swedish diplomat.

“It is good that there will be an independent and hopefully speedy investigation of what really happened. I spoke to some of the participants [at the meeting in Johannesburg] who also say they want to make a statement on this issue. Those who take part with troops in peacekeeping efforts and policing efforts need to show that they take these kinds of signals seriously,” she said.

Swedish UN worker Anders Kompass. Photo: AP Photo/Moises Castillo

Kompass is currently facing an internal UN probe following accusations that he passed on confidential information, including the names of alleged victims, without getting the go-ahed of his superiors.

The Swede, 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 at a centre for displaced people near the airport of 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 a UN tribunal ordering the reinstatement of the Swedish diplomat, 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.