Wednesday, 2 November 2011



UNJustice is deeply disturbed by the documented allegations of abuses suffered by an Italian intern at the hands of officials of the UN Secretariat, UN-WFP and WHO. These allegations are contained in a criminal complaint made on 25 March 2008 to the Office of the Attorney-General of Italy against a senior UN-OHRM official.

In particular, UNJustice is seriously worried that the UN-OHRM’s deliberate actions may represent an attempt to cover-up the allegations of specific illicit behavior by UN personnel and to uphold, with all means at its disposal, the written formal request made by a UN-OHRM Director to the intern “to refrain from communicating about this matter with any third party”.

UNJustice is gravely concerned that the complaint to the Office of the Attorney-General of Italy also contains evidence of a request made by a UN-WFP official to the intern for a bag as payment for the minutes of a UN-DPI meeting on the Oil for Food Programme scandal, material of a masochistic and degrading sexual nature, reference to false allegations of harassment by a WHO official and to other irregularities by the UN-Department of Safety and Security.

The UN Legal Counsel, in a 18 June 2008 memorandum addressed to the Government of Italy, “respectfully request(ed) the Government of Italy …take all necessary steps to ensure full respect for the privileges and immunities of the United Nations and its officials, in particular, the immunity from legal process…”, and stated that “Under Article VIII, Section 29 (b) of the General Convention…(the intern) must be provided with an appropriate mode of settlement” of this matter.

UNJustice expresses profound disappointment that, so far, the Organization, contrary to the provisions of the General Convention, and despite the efforts of the intern, has not yet provided the intern with any form of access to justice and fair treatment.

UNJustice urges the UN Secretariat, UN-WFP and WHO authorities concerned to comply sincerely with their strict legal obligations and to act as is required to give effect to the relevant determination contained in the memorandum addressed by the UN Legal Counsel to the Government of Italy.

There can be no misunderstanding of a text by one of the Organization’s highest officials -the equivalent of the Minister of Justice of a sovereign state-, which says, literally: “(the intern) must be provided with an appropriate mode of settlement” of this matter.

UNJustice is also at a loss to understand how the behavior described in the criminal complaint to the Office of the Attorney-General of Italy could have been performed in the interest of the people of the United Nations.

UNJustice recalls that the internal justice system of the Organization is a law regime where no criminal penalties may be incurred and failure to prosecute offenders brings about intolerable perceptions of impunity and subordination of justice to political objectives.

UNJustice maintains that States have the right to conduct criminal investigations and prosecute alleged offenders. UNJustice also reiterates that respecting these principles is all the more essential given that the UN is responsible for promoting and upholding the rule of law and human rights in the countries where it works around the world.

Please take action to urge the UN Secretariat, the UN-WFP and the WHO to comply with their strict legal obligation to guarantee the intern the right of access to justice and fair treatment.

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