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Complainant of UN Sexual Abuse Loses Contract, Says NYPD Banned from Arresting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 2 -- The UN claims a policy of "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse and harassment, but when a complainant of such harassment in the UN Office of Human Resources Management in 380 Madison Avenue came forward, she says the New York Police Department was blocked from entering this UN-rented building to effectuate an arrest for sexual assault.

  Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the top two spokesmen of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the incident, only to be told that the harassment claim is "sub judice" -- being investigated -- and can't be commented on.

  But the complainant notes that such UN investigations are supposed to be completed in at most three months. She filed her complaint in September; more than three months have passed and now her contracts has not been renewed.

  As Inner City Press as asked about this, the UN spokesman have repeatedly blurred the barring of NYPD from entering to arrest a UN employee for harassment with a separate incident which Inner City Press witnessed last month after the UN allowed the Sri Lankan Mission to the UN to use UN Security to discourage press coverage of the presence at the UN Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations of General Shavendra Silva, whose 58th Division is identified in Ban's own Panel of Experts report as engaged in war crimes.

Seeking the UN's response and explanation for banning the NYPD, Inner City Press has provided increasingly detailed information, including citing a January 12, 2012 letter from OHRM chief Catherine Pollard, which we are now putting online here.

  Nevertheless on March 1 Ban's lead spokesman Martin Nesirky persisted in blurring the two incidents and in refusing to answer. From the UN's transcript of it March 1 noon briefing:

Inner City Press: it’s a question about 380 Madison, but it really is about UN policy, I think that we may have, two incidents may have been blurred together.

Spokesperson Nesirky: By whom?

Inner City Press: In answers from the podium, from your side, you and Eduardo. I am asking about a case, it’s a complaint that was filed in September by a then UN contractor to OHRM [Office of Human Resources Management] about sexual abuse, and there is a letter back from Catherine Pollard dated 12 January saying that it is still being looked into. But in connection with that case, not a day last week, but at some previous date, the New York City Police Department went to 380 Madison to effectuate an arrest of an OHRM manager, and were told they couldn’t enter the building to make the arrest. It wasn’t serving a warrant, I want to reiterate, the individual that made the complaint has now not had a contract renewed, is leaving the country, but I would like to know, as a matter of UN policy, whether the New York City Police can enter 380 Madison to arrest a UN staff member on a criminal complaint of sexual abuse, and if not, why not?

Spokesperson: You had an answer on that, Matthew.

Inner City Press: It was the wrong one. It’s the wrong incident.

Spokesperson: Well, you seem to know what the answer is already, so I am not sure I need to [inaudible], Matthew.

Inner City Press: No, please, I just want to know, because I feel like it has continued to be answering about a separate incident, this UN staff member subject to an arrest warrant for sexual abuse, why were the police not allowed in?

Spokesperson: Matthew, the answer you got was quite clear. First of all, that the case that is pending, and therefore we don’t comment on it. And separately, there was another incident, and there was nothing to do with the United Nations, because you seem to conflate 380 Madison with United Nations Headquarters. It is a building with other tenants in it.

Inner City Press: I will be very brief. The summons which took place the day that I was there covering the senior advisory group has nothing to do with her case, that her case is specifically UN-related, and she also says that you keep saying sub judice or whatever. Her complaint was in September. It is supposed to be investigated by the UN in three months and hasn’t been. So…

Spokesperson: If it is pending, if it is pending, it is sub judice…

Inner City Press: Right.

Spokesperson: …which means you can’t comment on it.

Inner City Press: But just the last…

Spokesperson: That’s standard practice.

Inner City Press: …allowing the New York City Police in to do an arrest of a UN official has nothing to do with her case. She wants to know why…

Spokesperson: This was…

Inner City Press: This took place on…

Spokesperson: This was unrelated to the United Nations.

Inner City Press: I urge you…

Spokesperson: …there was a separate…

Inner City Press: I urge you to ask OHRM.

Spokesperson: As I say, you had an answer. I have heard what you…

Inner City Press: …it’s about a separate incident.

Spokesperson: That’s right, that’s right.

Inner City Press: I know. But you are saying, in this case, in the case that is under sub judice… there was no attempt to arrest a UN OHRM manager, I just, yes or no?

Spokesperson: Matthew, you don’t lay down, basically, demands in that way.

Inner City Press: You keep saying that you have answered the question, but you haven't. I am asking that question.

Spokesperson: Yeah, Matthew, this is not the Matthew Lee show.

Inner City Press: It’s not a show.

Spokesperson: I’ll take a look at it.

Inner City Press: You didn’t allow an arrest for a sexual abuse [inaudible]?

Spokesperson: Matthew, I’ll take a look at it for you.

Inner City Press: Good, thank you.

But there was still been no answer. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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