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In UN Sex Scandal Inner City Press' Told IAEA DG Knew But Under Guterres Action Is Secret

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series, Q&A

UNITED NATIONS, May 24 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on May 14 in Vienna told UN staff that sexual exploitation and abuse is not relevant, only sexual harassment is. This statement was made amid allegations of physical sexual abuse by UNAIDS' Luiz Loures, and the purchase of sex by a D1 UN official in Somalia. Are those cases of harassment? Inner City Press asked the UN to explain Guterres' statement, below - and then was informed by sources in Vienna that the #MeTooUN problem there is wider than heretofor reported. An abrupt resignation at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, of Tero Varjoranta, was by some like Reuters linked to Trump's pull out from the Iran JCPOA deal. Varjoranta was linked to the JCPOA - but his resignation, multiple whistleblowers tell Inner City Press, was more tied to a sexual harassment incident witnessed by many staff. Inner City Press' sources, understandably afraid of retaliation in Guterres' UN (which continues to restrict Inner City Press) now exclusively provide Inner City Press: it was a retreat held in October 2017 by one division within the Department of Safeguards, see below.

On May 23, before the UN barred Inner City Press from the premises from 7-7:55 pm then had it escorted out, Inner City Press asked Antonio "Cover Up" Guterres' spokesman Stephane "The Evicter" Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  it's both about IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], but also generally about the UN system and accountability for sexual harassment charges.  I'd asked… I guess, while you were away, I'd asked Farhan [Haq] about whether he was aware of… of… of whistle-blowers in the IAEA saying that the Deputy Director-General, Mr. Tero Varjoranta, who recently left.  He'd been in charge of JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and the Department of Safeguards, that the… that the reason that he left was an Office of Internal Oversight investigation of sexual harassment.  And I'm asking you, because the victims themselves and the whistle-blowers are saying he's left with a full pension.  He left with… with Farhan saying that it was for personal reasons.  And so, I guess I want to know, does the Secretary-General believe… this comes up in the Luiz Loures case at UNAIDS [Joint United Nations Programme against HIV/AIDS]and Frank La Rue at UNESCO.  Is this enough? And it's said in IAEA that Director General [Yukiya] Amano knew of this, didn't order any investigation, and there was only investigation because the whistle-blowers contacted the [Office of Internal Oversight] there directly and that they're very troubled by that.

Spokesman:  The… you know, a lot of these questions have to be addressed to the IAEA.  They're responsible, and they have their own administrative structures.  I think the message from the Secretary-General to all the heads of agency was… when he met them at CEB [Chief Executives Board], was on the importance of combating sexual harassment, on creating environments in which victims could come forward, and on strengthening the investigative practises.  Thank you." No thanks.
The UN edited out and censored what Inner City Press asked as Dujarric ran off the podium, hours before his censorship order barred Inner City Press from the UN. On May 24, Inner City Press asked again for the policy of the again out of town Guterres. Video here. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I want to ask you about a rule or at least guidance from the Secretary-General that I tried to ask you yesterday as… as… as you walked off, and it has to do with, in the situation in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in which whistle-blowers there say that the Director General, Mr. [Yukiya] Amano, knew since at least at latest January 2018 of an open case of sexual harassment that took place at a retreat of the staff and did nothing until a whistle-blower complained to OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] over there.  What is the policy of the Secretary-General for the heads of UN bought system agencies to act on complaints?  Is it… and if they don't act and it turns out that it's founded, what happens?

Spokesman:  I don't have the details you have on the case.  So, I think, for any of those details, you should address yourself to IAEA.  The Secretary-General made it very clear during the CEB [Chief Executives Board] that he wants all the heads of the UN agencies of which he has direct authority and the ones who are part of the CEB to be as proactive as possible in dealing with cases of sexual harassment.  But, as I said, I don't have the details of that… the IAEA case, and you should address your questions to them.

Inner City Press: Does he believe that… that there should be some public component of this?  Because one of the things that's left people so… at IAEA so angry is that, even after the investigation, the person left with a full pension, was described it for family reasons.  So, again, without getting… as a general matter, does he believe that a part of the justice in these matters is some public statement or accounting of what actually occurred?

Spokesman:  Every case needs to be investigated to the fullest.  Thank you and I will leave you." And again the UN omitted the next Inner Cit Press question which Dujarric ran away from.
he IAEA's "Safeguards" Department was responsible for the JCPOA, and is responsible for monitoring Iran. DDG
Varjoranta was the most senior UN official advising DG IAEA on nuclear issues globally.

The retreat involved the staff member participants staying at a hotel in Krems, outside Vienna. At the retreat, there was a casual bar night where participants got together. DDG
Varjoranta spent a large part of the night with one junior female professional officer - 'openly  kissing her, putting his arm around her, being massaged by her.' Numerous witnesses saw this and subsequently gave witness testimony in an internal investigation.There was also another incident where he put his hand on a female staff member’s leg.

This behavior is clearly inconsistent with the Standards of Conduct and the IAEAs code of conduct. The matter was investigated by the Office of Internal Oversight. The DDG is required to be provided a copy of the internal investigation report, and was allowed to provide written comment on it, which he did. [As the Press moved in] the DDG resigned without notice and sent an email to Safeguards staff saying he was leaving for “family reasons”.

Subsequently, senior management have not addressed the real reason for his sudden departure with staff, simply telling staff not to spread rumours. It's called a cover up [which Inner City Press has found in many parts of Guterres' UN system, and suffering consequences for exposing and reporting and asking about.] In the background, the IAEA is planning “respectful workplace training” for general staff.

Senior management at the IAEA act with impunity. [A source affirms that] the DG [Amano] has known about the DDGs behaviour since January 2018, raised to him by senior staff. It seem he knew further back, since shortly after the Krems retreat. Given the status of the DDG and the facts proven by the Office of internal Oversight, Mr Varjoranta should have been sacked, not allowed to resign with full UN benefits,  the ability to gain other UN employment, and no outcome for the victims or the witnesses." But this is Guterres' UN system. Amano knew; it seems Guterres knew (Inner City Press asked his spokesman and was told, personal reasons - the resignation email is about family reasons. Another has exclusively told Inner City Press that
"at a senior management retreat at the start of the year, the Deputy Director General  was seen to publicly 'kiss a female subordinate long and hard' and then was seen retiring to the bed chamber with the female person. Nonetheless, Amano approved a contract extension for the DDG subsequently... In my view the DG also should resign for his cover up - but he is laying the ground for a fourth term citing DPRK denuclearization."
Now, as global media ask restricted Inner City Press for more information on the case, here was a bit more - and there is yet more than this - from IAEA whistleblowers, even as corporate wires cover up: "It’s all about ‘Kremsgate’ in late 2017, where the DDG Tero Varjoranta acted in front of up to 30 IAEA staff and touched 2 women.  Senior management - including Director General Amano - have known about this since about October 2017 and taken no action. The DG himself knew of this.  There was an internal investigation that supported the above facts. There are numerous witnesses in the Department of Safeguards. The two women have been badly impacted by the incidents. Witnesses are scared to talk due to lack of protection.  The issue fits well into the global ‘me too’ dialogue. The perpetrator resigned without sanction, and returned to his home country Finland. With all of the usual UN benefits and no repercussions.  The two female victims and the 30 odd witnesses are left traumatized and with no faith in the UN system." For now, rightfully so. "This issue ONLY came to light because the Office of Internal Oversight received a whistleblower complaint. The IAEA - and in particular the Director General of the IAEA - knew about the misconduct of the DDG and did nothing about it. Kremsgate was an open secret. But the DG did not request an internal investigation. He was fully aware of the potential misconduct, and did nothing. He himself should be held to account for this failure to comply with UN standards." This is today's UN, which confines Inner City Press to minders while serving corporate wire services pan seared corvina and wine, in exchange for no questions on the UN's sexual harassment scandal.
On May 17, Inner City Press asked Guerres' deputy spokesman, UN transcript here, Inner City Press: Earlier this year, I asked a number of questions about UNFPA in India and the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against a Diego Palacios there and there's just been a large press conference of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in India, both saying that the…  asking that the Secretary-General remove immunity from Mr. Diego Palacios and also tying it into the situation at UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme against HIV/AIDS) with Michel Sidibé, but I wanted to know an update from you.  They seem to say at this press conference that Mr. Palacios hasn't really even been interviewed, that there's not…  that the UN hasn't acted in any way on this detailed allegation of sexual harassment.  Are you aware of what UNFPA has done, if the Secretary-General is aware of and may act on this request that immunity be removed, particularly given the inaction by the UNFPA?

Deputy Spokesman:  As far as I'm aware at this stage, it remains in the hands of the UN Population Fund, and they're the ones who are looking into this, and we'll leave it in their hands.

Inner City Press:  Recently, there was an abrupt resignation of a Deputy Director General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in Geneva, Tero Varjoranta, and we've been hearing various reasons for it, and since the Secretary-General was just in Vienna, is he aware of any quote "#MeToo issues” at IAEA, and if so, what did he do while he's there?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't really have any comment to share on this.  As far as I'm aware, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that he had stepped down for personal reasons, and so that is the information we have on that." Really.
Guterres' statement was made at a staff Town Hall meeting for which he was 45 minutes late. After he said it, a staff member complained that her application to set up a #MeToo club had been denied and would Guterres help? He did not say yes. So on May 15 in New York, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: At yesterday's town-hall meeting in Vienna, one of the questions from the floor was from a self-described victim of sexual harassment within the UN system, and she asked Secretary-General whether he supported the idea of a "me too" club, I guess, within the UN in Vienna.  He didn't seem to say yes.  He seemed to say, well, if I understand it better.  She said, do you support it, and they just moved on.  Can you say now does the Secretary-General support the idea?  She was apparently rejected by the UN in Vienna to set up this, such a club.  Does he support that idea, and will he follow up with the staff member who asked him this explicitly in the town-hall meeting?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first, we are trying to get input from all staff about what needs to happen in order to deal more effectively with sexual harassment, including through a survey of staff, and so we will try to evaluate what staff broadly say and see what steps need to be taken." Oh.
Guterres also on May 14
said his attempted reform of the UN development system had "passed silence," with but without assessed contributions. On May 15 Inner City Press also asked Haq: He also seemed to say that, I don't know if that the assessed contributions, that the reform of the development system had passed through silence procedure; it still has not been voted on, but he seemed to say that it's passed, but without the Resident Coordinator system being funded through assessed contributions.  What is his plan, given that it seems like that he thinks that now it's going to be approved by the General Assembly, hasn’t passed through, what is the plan to actually fund these resident coordinators?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first, we will see what the final results are once the Member States agree on it.  We hope in the coming days we will be able to provide some details about what the development reform is about. "
Back on May 14 i
n New York at the UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if Guteres doesn't think the Loures cases is about sexual abuse, beyond harassment. Haq seemed to say Guterres uses these terms based on the identify of the victim, not the use of force or economic pressure. #MeTooUN? 
Days after first banning the Press from his photo ops with Al Sharpton and new Political Affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, Guterres' UN then prohibited Inner City Press' livestreaming of a photo op with Finland's foreign minister even though UN Television shot video and audio there. This has continued and been reaffirmed - but not explained or justified.

  Is Guterres going to take his absurd restrictions on and censorship of the Press on the road? Or create a double standard where the restrictions apply only inside UN headquarters? How long will he continue his rote expressions of support for UNAIDS' Michel Sidibe, who threatened staff with retaliation for speaking about against Luiz Loures? And given the statements, when will Guterres have to start recusing himself? Watch this site. Last month Guterres slightly delayed his trip to Saudi Arabia, but not by much. After accepting a $930 million check from the Saudi Crown Prince and in remarks not mentioning the civilians deaths caused by Saudi bombing of Yemen, now Guterres has delivered again, remarks praising Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism work. Some find it ironic; some call this trip "Blood Money II." But duty called. Before he left, Guterres who refused actually pointed Press questions with  dismissive wave of the hand, delivered a 20 minute interview to Saudi aligned media. Now there, he is quoted with more praise of Saudi, by the Saudi Press Agency (to which his UN has given office space and full access while evicting and restricting the independent Press). The UN has yet to send out a transcript of Guterres' craven remarks quoted by the Saudi Press Agency, sending so far only a speech beginning "Your Excellency, Foreign Minister al-Jubeir, Your Excellency, Ambassador Al-Mouallimi, I want to express my deep gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous support to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, a support without which the Centre, would probably never have been able to be born. And I thank Ambassador Al Mouallimi for his able chairmanship of this Advisory Board... I recently launched the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Compact, which I signed with the heads of 36 UN entities, the INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization." INTERPOL, of course, is used by some governments to arrest or travel ban their opponents. We'll have more on this. Only a week before as Guterres took off on his trip to China, Inner City Press which has pursued the UN bribery scandals of Ng Lap Seng and now the China Energy Fund Committee asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric on April 6 if Guterres will address any of these issues during his five days in the country. Dujarric was dismissive, and ended the briefing. Video here; UN transcript here and below. This cutting off of public quesitons happened after Guterres gave a private (self) promotional interview to China's state media Xinhua, touting the trip and China as "absolutely essential" on the North Korea nuclear issue. Dujarric race off the podium made it impossible to ask him for Guterres' opinion on if the gifts given to Kim Jong Un on his recent train trip to China violated the UN's 1718 sanctions. Then again, the UN's own World Intellectual Property Organization helped on North Korea's cyanide patents without telling the 1718 Committee, and Guterres has been as hands-off with WIPO's Gurry as he has been with UNAIDS' Michel Sidibe on the sexual harassment and retaliation scandal. We'll have more on this.


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