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Four Months After Arrest of UN Official, UN Won't Disclose Its Follow Up

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- Four months after a UN official was arrested for sexual abuse, on Friday when Inner City Press asked what the UN had done, the Organization's top management official Yukio Takasu declined to discuss this "individual case" in public.

  This lack of transparency is not only for "the public." Even after the NY Police Department has arrested the head of the UN's Emergency Preparedness unit for sexual abuse, the UN has just refused to tell the complainant what discplinary action it has taken.

   In a June 22 letter obtained and now first reported by Inner City Press, the officer in charge of the UN Office of Human Resources Management Martha Helena Lopez has told the complainant that despite a June 14 request to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, neither the fact-finding report nor information about the disciplinary measures taken will be provided.

  The UN told the complainaint "it is the practice of the Organization not to publicly disclose the discliplinary action(s) imposed on a given staff member." And the administrative instruction about releasing fact finding reports has been repealed or "superseded" under Ban Ki-moon, in UN-ese.

  Inner City Press chose not to publish the letter itself, to not identify the complainant.

  And in its question to Under Secretary General for Management Takasu on October 19 Inner City Press did not name the defendant, either, but did ask for confirmation or denial that the UN has (merely) demoted the abuser from P5 to P4 level, but with the same job: head of the UN's Emergency Preparedness unit.  But this has not been answered.

  Instead, for the record, Takasu said he wants the Department of Management to take the lead, and cited the UN charter. That is appreciated. But in a case like this, without naming either party, wouldn't it be important to state publicly what steps the UN took?

  Back on June 14, after reporting the arrest and after confirmation by NYPD the name of the arrestee, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky

about an incident at 380 Madison Avenue, which initially I was asking about because of the Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping and General Shavendra Silva...  now it’s been confirmed to me by the New York Police Department, a UN official, who will remain unnamed, the head of the Emergency Preparedness Unit submitted himself to the 17th Precinct and was, in fact, arrested for sexual abuse... So, I wanted to know... [if] this individual has been downgraded from P5 to P4 at the same salary and with the same job, which some people see as not consistent with the zero tolerance policy?

  Nesirky replied that "I can’t comment on what may or may not have transpired at the New York Police Department; that’s for them to comment on. I cannot comment on that. On the second part, there was an internal procedure, which is confidential in nature, and therefore I cannot comment further on that."

  But, Inner City Press asked, "Is immunity going to be sought?"

   Nesirky said, "my answer in two parts will suffice there. And I am just checking on other questions."

  No further information was provided; now, USG Takasu says he will not discuss individual cases in public. Watch this site.

Footnote: As we tweeted at the time, hat tip to the work on this of UN Justice, including on June 21 regarding the June 14 request. May the struggle for accountability from the UN on these matters, and those like the introduction of cholera into Haiti and role in the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka, report already delayed for months, continue.

We'll have more on this. 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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