United Nations high-level staff members made no attempt to stop soldiers from raping African children and covered up their inaction, according to human rights group AIDS-Free World documents released Friday. Rather than immediately acting to protect children from sexual abuse reported by U.N. long term staffer Anders Kompass, the U.N. acted against him with disciplinary procedures to force the whistle-blower’s resignation, according to the newly leaked documents. The U.N.’s alleged neglect and thus complicity in child sexual abuse has become one of if not the most explosive event in the history of the founding organization of the 32 Articles of the Declaration of Human Rights.
“The documents indicate a total failure of the U.N. to act on claims of sexual abuse, even when they know that U.N. involvement might be the surest route to stopping crimes and ensuring justice,” AIDS-Free World’s co-director Paula Donovan said in a statement this weekend.
The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had evidence of soldiers sexually abusing Central African Republic (CAR) children over a year ago, as early as May 19, 2014. During a June 18, 2014 interview, a 13-year-old boy said he couldn’t number all the times he’d been forced to perform oral sex on soldiers but the most recent was between June 8 and 12, 2014 – several weeks after the first UNICEF interview.
“By agreeing to be interviewed by the UN, the children expected the abuse to stop and the perpetrators to be arrested,” AIDS-Free World said in a statement. “When children report sexual abuse, adults must report it to the authorities. A child needs protection and, by definition, does not have the agency to decide whether to press charges. They deserved the protection they assumed they would receive once the UN knew of their abuse.”
Twenty-three soldiers from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea are implicated in raping children, according to one of the reports. No arrests have been made.
“The choice of documents leaked by AIDS-Free World was highly selective and the interpretation significantly distorted,” Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a telephone interview.
The New York Times reports, “‘AIDS-Free World’s narrative did not address a concern that the report Mr. Kompass gave to the French government still contained the names of witnesses, violating the confidentiality that is a tenet of human rights investigations to ensure the safety of witnesses, stated Mr. Colville. ‘It is the sole reason for the internal investigation,’ he said, dismissing any suggestion of a cover-up.”
Ms. Donovan countered that over 30 officials were made aware of the allegations for months yet took no action. When Mr. Kompass resisted U.N. pressure to resign by threatening to go public, according to her, they conspired to silence him and mask their inaction by commencing an internal investigation.
U.N. Peacekeeping head Hervé Ladsous called on High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to urge Mr. Kompass to resign, according to the report. Mr. Ladsous has denied this allegation.
Documents leaked thus far include Mr. Kompass’s immediate supervisor, Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, stating her acknowledgment that she failed to follow-up on the child rape when he brought it to her attention.