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From Turkey, A Whistleblower's Tale Brings Ethics Issue Closer to Home for UN and UNDP's Dervis

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 10 -- While on Monday both Ban Ki-moon and UN Development Program Administrator Kemal Dervis both spoke about whether whistleblower protection can be applied to UNDP by the UN Ethics Office, another UNDP whistleblower emerged, writing to Mr. Ban's senior advisors about alleged retaliation in Turkey by a Dervis associate. To avoid any misunderstanding seemingly caused by analytic quotes, click here for that, included below in full is a copy of today's submission. Significantly, the complainant Imran Mumtaz states that his "request for whistle blower protection to Susan Johns in the UN Ethics Office was rejected as I had held a UNDP contract I did not qualify for such protection." This would mean that even before June and July of 2007, a person alleging retaliation by UNDP had already been denied by the Ethics Office.

            The complaint also recites non-action by UNDP's Ombudsman's Office, of which Kemal Dervis made much during his presentation to UNDP's Executive Board on Monday, click here for that story.  For the record, when on Monday Dervis was asked Press questions as he left the meeting room, he twice said, "I will not answer questions in the corridor." Asked when he will hold a press conference, which he has not done for eight months, he did not answer, but headed to the exit surrounded by three staff members.

Kemal Dervis with radio microphone, radio retaliation not shown

    Here now the complaint:

From: Imran Mumtaz
Date: Sep 10, 2007 4:27 PM
To: Kim Won-soon, Vijay Nambiar, Alicia Barcena, Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Robert Benson, nycmis [at]

H.E. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General, United Nations
H.E. Carsten Staur, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board

Dear Sir:

I am a Pakistani national, my name is Imran Mumtaz and I am the former radio operator for UN DSS in Ankara, Turkey.  I am writing to you, that as per your statement of 23 August 2007, in which you have requested an independent review of the allegations related to UNDP's operations in DPRK and the retaliatory treatment against it's Head of Operations, as well as examination of UNDP's broader accountability and oversight policies, including protection of whistleblowers, I wish to bring to your attention my case.

I started to work in UNDP Akara in the DSS Unit as a Service Contract Staff, under the leadership of [REDACTED who] was a former bodyguard of Mr. Kemal Dervis and former bodyguard of the Turkish Prime Minister. He was at the time running also in parallel to the UNDP job – his own private security business in which he would use the UNDP facilities as well as us (staff in the office) to "assist" him in running his investigative business as well as with maintaining his website and doing other services for him. He was a very powerful man, and every-time, the administrator – Mr. Kemal Dervis would come to Turkey, [REDACTED] would be full time with Mr. Dervis.

Being abused for so long, in March 2006, I along with other three staff members of my office, were asked to provide written statements against [REDACTED], the DSS assistant regarding harassment and abuse of authority in the office, as well as the misuse of UN resources. At the time, we were told as UN employees, it was our responsibility to report such misconduct in the office and we would be duly protected from any retaliatory action, including by [REDACTED].

These statements were provided to the then UNDP country head, Mr. Jacob Simonsen, by another Danish national, Mr. Jens Larsen, who was the Head of DSS Office in Ankara, however, no action was ever taken against [REDACTED]. He was protected from very higher ups.

Following my cooperation with this effort, I began receiving threats by friends of  [REDACTED']s working in the secret police department, and on 27 April 2006 my UNDP contract was cancelled on the pretext that the UN failed to apply for my work permit (their legal responsibility under Turkish law). Although UNDP was fully aware of my status in the country and issued three consecutive contracts to me, UNDP consistently failed to file the necessary paperwork.

At the same time, the Turkish Secret police were sent to my home and I, along with others, received harassing phone calls at night. I was told that I faced imminent deportation, including possible imprisonment.
During these days, I felt immensely isolated and insecure. These incidents were duly reported to Mr. Simonsen, however, no action to protect me was made. Moreover, the other staff members who provided written statements against [REDACTED], were also being harassed in their homes, including Mr. Larsen.

In May 2006, the above facts were reported to James Lee, the UNDP Ombudsman's office in New York, while a request for whistle blower protection to Susan Johns in the UN Ethics Office was rejected as I had held a UNDP contract I did not qualify for such protection. Moreover, my job had already been terminated.

At the same time, however, I was told by UNDP in Turkey that every effort would be made to reinstate me at the earliest date and I was asked to cooperate with a UN investigation lodged against Mr. Jens Larsen (Denmark), following a counter harassment complaint against him by [REDACTED] lodged in the summer of 2006. At the end again Mr. Larsen, even though he was from Denmark, he lost his job – for daring to go against the former bodyguard of Mr. Kemal Dervis. Mr. Larsen would later be forced to relocate to India for DSS with his family following the false allegations made against him.

Dear Mr. Secretary General and Mr. President of Executive Board,I would like you to request a similar independent review of the allegations related to UNDP operations in Ankara and the retaliatory treatment against myself and Mr. Jens Larsen.  Similar to the case of North Korea, we had the courage to uncover and report substantial abuse and miss-use of UN name and functions . What is bad is that we were tricked from our head of Office Mr. Simonsen to come out with statement, and the moment we did, instead of UNDP taking actions against [REDACTED], they took care of the problem by getting read of me and Mr. Larsen.

I demand that an immediate investigation should be made to the operations and the links of Mr. Dervis to that office.

Imran Mumtaz

            That the request has also been sent, through the Danish Mission to the UN, to the president of UNDP's Executive Board, Danish Ambassador Carsten Staur is also ironic, in that the complaint alleged UNDP retaliation against Danish national Jens Larsen. For the record, six days ago on September 4 Inner City Press sent Amb. Carsten an email asking about

UNFPA's relocation of its Procurement Services Section from New York to Copenhagen, and Denmark's payment of $1.3 million to UNFPA to "support" the  relocation. Even going forward, any and all information you could provide about Denmark's knowledge of how these funds were spent will be appreciated, and reported.

  Additionally, we are informed that a Dane, Jens Larsen, had issues with UNDP -- could you state your knowledge of this, particularly given position on UNDP's Executive Board.

  Please be aware that UNDP has declined to answer factual questions we posed on in July, and therefore publication cannot and will not any longer be delayed awaiting answers from UNDP. However, any responses received from you, even after initial publication, will be reported as appropriate.

            And that still holds true -- Inner City Press will report on responses to the above, now or in the future. Developing.

  Again, because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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