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UN whistleblower protests forced transfer to Fiji next week

May 8, 2015

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. staffer who joined other high-profile whistleblowers in a recent letter to the U.N. chief demanding better treatment for people who report wrongdoing now says she is being transferred from Geneva to Fiji next week against her wishes.

Miranda Brown said Thursday that she has written to the U.N. high commissioner for human rights to stop the transfer to an office that she says is soon expected to close.

Brown, a staffer in the Geneva-based human rights office, has said that within days of being called to testify in a major investigation of another U.N. agency where she had worked and alleged wrongdoing, she was told that her contract would not be renewed. When she complained, she was told she would be transferred.

Spokesmen for the U.N. and its rights office had no immediate comment.

The Washington-based Government Accountability Project paired Brown’s treatment with that of Anders Kompass, another Geneva-based human rights staffer who was suspended last month for leaking information to French authorities about an internal investigation into accusations that French soldiers in Central African Republic had sexually abused children.

The U.N. Dispute Tribunal on Tuesday ordered the lifting of Kompass’ suspension, citing the harm to his reputation.

In her previous job, Brown had reported suspected wrongdoing at the World Intellectual Property Organization, where she worked as a strategic adviser. She was then transferred to the human rights office.

The GAP statement pointed out a joint declaration issued Monday by a group that included the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye. The declaration on freedom of expression calls for the protection of “individuals who expose wrongdoing.”

The executive director of GAP, Bea Edwards, said, “Both Miranda Brown and Anders Kompass would be beneficiaries of this commitment to whistleblowers, were the high commissioner for human rights to actually implement it.”

Brown also said Thursday that the group of whistleblowers has never received a response from the U.N. about their letter sent earlier this month that said current U.N. whistleblower policies offer “little to no measure of real or meaningful protection” from retaliation that can include firing, harassment and intimidation.

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