A United Nations tribunal on Wednesday ruled that the agency unlawfully retaliated against an internal whistleblower who exposed allegations that French "peacekeeping" troops in Central African Republic had sexually abused children.
Presiding Judge Thomas Laker ordered the UN to immediately reinstate Anders Kompass, the director of field operations for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who was suspended in April for leaking an internal UN report to French authorities last summer.
The report identified children between the ages of eight and fifteen who said they were abused by French troops while at a internally displaced persons camp in Bangui, the capital of CAR. In some cases, children said they were forced to perform sex acts in exchange for food. The UN has indicated that it is possible that the number of children impacted could, in fact, be far greater than those highlighted in the report.
French authorities are currently investigating the findings.
Top UN officials have repeatedly defended the decision to retaliate against Kompass for the disclosure on the grounds that he had violated "protocol."
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But critics have charged that the UN, in fact, orchestrated a crackdown on a whistleblower to cover its own trail.
Judge Laker said the suspension was "prima facie unlawful" and warned that the harm to Kompass's career may be irreversible.
Lawyers for Kompass confirmed their belief that the significant damage to their client has already been done:
The Applicant has an unblemished employment record and his competence and integrity, which have never been questioned throughout his career, are cast into doubt by the contested decision; the publicity of the process resulting from him having been placed on administrative leave leads to an exacerbation of the reputational damage to the Applicant each day the administrative leave continues.
According to The Guardian, "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."