UN rape scandal whistle-blower resigns

Anders Kompass, director of field operations at the UN human rights office in Geneva, announced his resignation on Tuesday. Kompass was suspended last year for exposing the sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic. Kompass says he can no longer work for an organisation that does not hold senior officials to account.

Kompass faced the sack after he shared confidential documents detailing the exploitation of children as young as eight by French troops in the M’Poko camp for displaced people in the Central African Republic. The information was given to authorities in Paris because of the UN’s failure to stop the abuse. When French authorities’ tried to investigate Kompass’s claims, their efforts were hampered by UN officials.

The UN repeatedly condemned his actions, contending that he had breached protocols by sharing a secret internal document.Kompass was under disciplinary investigation for nine months. In January this year he was exonerated and informed in a letter that the internal investigation; run by the Office of Internal Oversight, had cleared him of all charges.

An independent panel later found senior UN managers to have “abused their authority” in the handling of the scandal and summed up the situation as a “gross institutional failure”. The UN’s actions were condemned by the panel as disingenuous to label what Kompass did as “misconduct”. In another separate case concerning Kompass passing information to the Moroccan government, his peers allegedly branded the whistle-blower as an “untrustworthy shill for foreign government.”

Kompass told news agency IRIN: “The complete impunity for those who have been found to have, in various degrees, abused their authority, together with the unwillingness of the hierarchy to express any regrets for the way they acted towards me sadly confirms that lack of accountability is entrenched in the United Nations. This makes it impossible for me to continue working there.”

Kompass’s resignation comes five months after a UN report by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. Passing on information is not against UN processes – sharing information with governments to promote positive changes in behaviour was part of Kompass’s job description. Kompass is due to leave his post on August 31 and will reportedly take up a position with the Swedish Foreign Ministry according to Martin Tunström, political editor of the Kalmar Barometern.

Founder and editor-in-chief of Media Diversified Samantha Asumadu began the #PredatoryPeacekeepers campaign to highlight the prevalence of Blue Helmet sexual abuse. On the news of Kompass’ resignation, Asumadu said: ”If we perceive Edward Snowden to be a hero for his expose of the CIA et al then Anders Kompass is also a hero.”

“Whether he knew or not at the time he would be prosecuted for exposing the rape and abuse of Central African Republic women, girls and boys in M’Poko camp, his brave stance of whistle-blowing and yesterday of resigning puts the UN under an ever-increasing spotlight.

“It’s absolutely what’s needed because so far there is documented evidence that they have both tried to hide the investigation into abuses by their peacekeepers and French troops but they have also actively tried to stop reports getting out into the public domain. This will, of course, prevent other whistle-blowers coming forward. It’s designed to give them pause. 

“Otherwise we may have found out before this week about the mass grave in CAR, next to a peacekeepers camp. The United Nations have done this in our name. It is abhorrent. Over the past few months we have been demanding accountability, care for the victims and justice for the crimes done under the United Nations banner. We continue to demand and trust that our efforts aren’t in vain.”

Asumadu continued: “To quote from the latest #PredatoryPeacekeepers campaign statement: ‘It is simply not good enough to ‘urge’ member states to stamp out what the UN itself recognises as ‘a cancer’. We have been here many time before. Similar ‘urges’ and promises were made, it has not stopped the situation in CAR. Or, in Haiti, or in the DRC, or in Somalia etc… There are clear conflicts of interest in members states investigating themselves for crimes committed in other countries, crimes against bodies that are often seen as expendable…particularly given what is at stake: the reputation of members states’ own military forces and, potentially legal claims which could attract, and rightly so, requests for huge amounts in reparation. ‘Urging’ is this context is simply not enough.’”

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Ithala fails to act against board chairperson over PPE scandal

Morar asked to settle with the state and pay back the profit he made on an irregular tender

Vodacom swindled out of more than R24m worth of iPhones

A former employee allegedly ran an intricate scam to steal 8700 phones from the cellular giant

More top stories

Feathers fly over proposed wind farm’s impacts on great white...

The project poses a risk to declining great white pelican population at Dassen Island

Covid triggers crypto collectables boom

These one-of-a-kind digital collector’s items are being sold for unprecedented prices

Crisis response and accountability: Should leaders’ gender matter?

Women leaders are lauded for their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the data is often cherry-picked

ANC North West factions fight on

Premier Job Mokgoro’s hearing begins despite move to stop it by party secretary general Ace Magashule

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…