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UN Whistleblower Awarded $166,000 from UNDP, Exposed N.Korea Irregularities

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- The whistleblower who exposed irregularities in the UN Development Program's programs in North Korea, only to be fired and barred from UN premises, today won a $166,000 judgment from the UN Dispute Tribunal.

   Tony Shkurtaj, whose story Inner City Press exclusively covered from his first blowing of the whistle after UNDP ignored his complaints to then Administrator Kemal Dervis and Spokesman David Morrison's use of mainstream media to smear Shkurtaj's character and educational background, has doggedly pursued his rights as a whistleblower, first through the UN's seemingly powerless Ethics Office and now through the UN Dispute Tribunal.

On August 31, in a decision Inner City Press has obtained and is putting online here, UNDT Judge Ebrahim-Carstens ruled:

"The Tribunal finds that not only was the applicant not given an opportunity to respond to these adverse findings, he was not even made aware of the EIIRP’s concerns regarding his credibility at any point prior to the issuance of the report. The Tribunal is persuaded by the applicant’s argument that the report of the EIIRP contained adverse findings against him and that, in the particular circumstances of this case, he should have been made aware of them prior to the issuance of the report and provided with the opportunity to comment on them and provide his explanations. Therefore, the Ethics Office’s finding that there was a violation of the applicant’s procedural right to be made aware of—and to have the opportunity to respond to—the adverse findings concerning his credibility and trustworthiness was reasonable and justified. This is particularly so considering the report was made public, following which there was no further process made available to the applicant to contest these findings. This failure resulted in a violation of the applicant’s due process rights, damaged his career prospects and professional reputation, and caused him emotional distress, for all of which he should be compensated. I find that the recommendation of the Director of the Ethics Office that the applicant be paid fourteen months’ salary was reasonable in light of all the circumstances of this case". (14 months x $11,500 = 161,000)

UNDP's Clark and Team Ban, whistleblower protections not shown

"The referral of the report to the Ethics Office for recommendations was part of UNDP’s effort to carry out a fair and objective fact-finding exercise and this referral was meant to be meaningful, particularly considering the history of this case. The undertaking by UNDP was to share EIIRP’s findings with the Director of the Ethics Office, who “could then provide an opinion and formulate recommendations, as may be appropriate, on the retaliation allegations in light of these findings”. This meant that, having submitted to the process, UNDP was required to give serious and timeous consideration to the Ethics Office’s comments and recommendations, make a decision on them and provide this decision, along with the reasons, to the applicant. There is no evidence before me that UNDP afforded such timeous and serious consideration to the Ethics Office’s recommendation. This failure and the resultant procedural delay shall be recompensed. In light of the circumstances of this case, I find that the lump sum amount of USD5,000 is appropriate to compensate the applicant." (+$5,000).”

   Earlier, UNDP refused to abide by the UN Ethics Office ruling that Shkurtaj's due process rights were violated. Now the new UN justice system, that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has bragged so much about, has vindicated Shkurtaj's rights. Will Ban allow UNDP under Helen Clark to continue to thumb its nose at whistleblower's rights? Watch this site.

Footnote: Even earlier this month, UNDP dodged questions on fraud by its highest representative to the Palestinian people, exposed by Inner City Press, click here. Until now, Ban Ki-moon has done nothing to reign in UNDP's Helen Clark, whose advice has gotten Ban into more and more trouble. What will happen here?

* * *

On Myanmar, UNDP's Clark Blames Poverty on Politics, UK Defends Sanctions, UNDP Conflict of Interest in N.Korea?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 -- Building the capacity of governments, even dictatorships and military regimes, is the approach taken the UN Development Program. Thursday Inner City Press asked UNDP Administrator Helen Clark to explain what she meant that because "'political factors' restrict what the UNDP can do in Myanmar.. 'it's not so easy to make progress there at this time' on the Millennium Development Goals.

  Ms. Clark backtracked, saying that it's not UNDP's restricted action in Myanmar that's to blame, its the politics of aid donors-- apparently meaning, sanctions. Clark emphasized that Myanmar gets the least development aid per capita of any country, including North Korea. "Politics," she said, "has been a complicating factor." Video here, from Minute 32:28.

    Well, yes. The government of General Than Shwe has dissolved the NLD party of Aung San Suu Kyi, and has stacked the upcoming election for military connected candidates. Is this the government whose capacity UNDP seeks to build?

UK's Lyall Grant at right hand of Helen Clark, regimes not shown

   UK Ambassador Lyall Grant jumped in to say that the sanctions only "target the regime" in what he called Burma.

The UN's Children and Armed Conflict envoy Radhika Coomaraswamy has said that Myanmar entirely stopped working toward an action plan on child soldiers, in the run up to the election. Inner City Press stopped Myanmar's Ambassador to the UN outside the Security Council on June 16 and asked why the country has stopped. The Ambassador insisted that his government works closely with Ms. Coomaraswamy, and wants to be take off her list of recruiters. Perhaps UNDP would support this?

Inner City Press also asked Ms. Clark about UNDP's role in the security sector in Somalia, where the government has been exposed as using 20% child soldiers. "We do not train soldiers," Clark answered. "We are nowhere near that one." Not so fast. UNDP has provided funds for training TFG security; the dispute has been how much they spend. We aim to have more on this.

Footnote: When UNDP re-opened its North Korea program and website, it listed Mr. Vijay Thapa as International Finance Officer. A whistleblower asks, isn't this a conflict of interest since Mr. Thapa has been Finance Officer in DPR Korea since 2003, therefore four years before the discovery of counterfeit? Mr Thapa is among those UNDP Staff of DPR Korea whom declined to talk to US Southern District Attorney on counterfeit and he is part of the "old cast" of UNDP DPRK management responsible for the wrong doings. One wonders, was the appointment of Mr. Thapa a request from DPR Korean Government ? Is this more capacity building?

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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