UN Ordered to Lift Suspension of Sexual Abuse Report Whistleblower

Anders Kompass, representante del Alto C

Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The UN Dispute tribunal has ordered the United Nations to immediately lift the suspension of a whistleblower who disclosed the alleged sexual abuse of children by peacekeeping troops in Africa to the French authorities.

The judge said that the decision to suspend Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was “prima facie unlawful” and ordered the UN to lift his suspension immediately to prevent further damage to his reputation.

Kompass leaked an internal UN report on the alleged sexual abuse of children by French troops in Central African Republic to French prosecutors last summer. The French immediately mounted an investigation and revealed last week they were investigating up to 14 soldiers for alleged abuse.

In his statement to the UN dispute tribunal, Kompass stated that he informed his boss – the deputy high commissioner – last July that he had leaked the report in order for the French to mount an investigation. The UN disputes this.

Nine months later on 17 April this year, he was suspended by the high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and put under investigation for leaking confidential information – including the names of victims and staff members who conducted the interviews with the children.

The confidential internal report leaked by Kompass contained interviews by a UN official and a member of Unicef with a number of children, aged between eight and 15, who say they were sexually abused at a camp for internally displaced people in Bangui, the capital of CAR, by French troops last year.

The order of the dispute tribunal on Wednesday means Kompass’s suspension will be lifted temporarily while an internal management review takes place into the handling of the case.

How Israel Defence Forces Behaved in Gaza War

Gaza July 2014

Gaza July 2014

The army veterans’ organization has released a report called “Breaking the Silence” containing testimonies of 60 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and officers who fought during Operation Protective Edge last July and August. According to the group, the testimonies are indicative of a general principle that governed the entire military operation: minimum risk to the Israeli forces, even if it meant civilian casualties.

The rules of engagement basically established that “Anyone found in an IDF area, which the IDF had occupied, was not a civilian. That was the assumption,” one of the soldiers stated.

An armored infantry soldier reported that, at some point, it was understood that any home which Israeli forces entered and used would be destroyed afterward by large D9 bulldozers. “At no point until the end of the operation … did anyone tell us what the operational usefulness was in exposing [razing] the houses,” he said. “During a conversation, the unit commanders explained that it wasn’t an act of revenge. At a certain point we realized this was a trend. You leave a house and there’s no longer a house. The D9 comes and exposes [it].”

There were also several reports of shooting at civilians. A woman who was clearly unstable and no threat was reportedly ordered by the battalion commander to walk westward, toward an area where tanks were stationed. When the woman approached the tank force, she was machine-gunned to death.

The detailed testimonies in the report include other practices that some units adopted during Operation Protective Edge.

The full report is available here.

A Hybrid Court to Try South Sudan Crimes?

South Sudan warSpeaking in Nairobi on Monday during a visit to Kenya, US Secretary of State John Kerry said South Sudan was at “grave risk” as he announced US backing for a “hybrid court” to hold warring parties to account.

Kerry said he supported the creation of “a credible, impartial and effective justice mechanism, such as a hybrid court, in order to hold perpetrators of violence to account.”

A hybrid court would combine international and domestic law.

More than 50,000 people died since the beginning of the war in December 2013, which spread from the capital Juba to the rest of the country, forcing more than a million from their homes.

Kerry said the promise of independence in 2011 was “at grave risk of being squandered”.

Stalled peace talks hosted in Addis Ababa have failed to end the fighting, which Kerry blamed on President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.

“Unfortunately, South Sudan’s leaders, both those in office and those contesting, have not yet chosen to make the compromises needed for peace,” Kerry said.

Human rights activists say that decades of impunity for past crimes have contributed to the current round of civil war and justice must be sought if an end to the cycles of violence is to be found.

In December advocacy group Human Rights Watch proposed the setting up of a “hybrid court” involving both international and domestic judges, as in the case of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

On Monday Kerry endorsed the idea of a hybrid court and pledged $5 million (4.5 million euros) to kickstart the process.