UN ‘grossly mishandled’ inquiry into alleged sexual assault, say campaigners
In an open letter to António Guterres, the UN’s secretary general, the campaign group Code Blue claims that a UN agency has “grossly mishandled” an investigation into claims of sexual harassment and assault by a high-ranking official.Last week, UNAids concluded that allegations against Luiz Loures, an assistant secretary general of the UN, and deputy executive director of programme at UNAids, were not substantiated.It is understood that the complainant alleged Loures sexually harassed her, and sexually assaulted her in a lift while away on work travel. In a letter addressed to Guterres, Code Blue alleged that the investigation was undermined by a conflict of interest, with the executive director of UNAids, Michel Sidibé, acting both as a witness and as the “final decision-maker” in the case. The group urged Guterres to hand over the investigation to an “external, neutral and independent body”.A recent Guardian investigation found that many UN employees who have experienced sexual harassment or a sexual assault do not trust the UN’s internal investigations process, which is perceived as biased and ineffective. Following the investigation, the Guardian has been contacted by dozens of current and former UN employees, including at UNAids, who allege that they experienced sexual harassment or assault but did not receive justice.On the other hand, the UN claim it has a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and that it is taking steps to increase the support given to victims.Code Blue called the investigation at UNAids a “gross miscarriage of justice”.
-Source: The Guardian