UN whistleblower resigns over French peacekeeper 'child abuse'

Anders Kompass (File photo) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In his resignation letter, Mr Kompass criticised the "complete impunity" of some UN staff

A UN whistleblower who alleged child sex abuse by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic has resigned, citing the "complete impunity" of those responsible for the crimes.

Anders Kompass told officials that the UN was failing to properly investigate allegations that French troops abused children as young as eight.

A UN investigation in May 2015 cleared him of sharing confidential documents.

But Mr Kompass says senior officials have still not been held to account.

His resignation takes effect in August.

Mr Kompass is the director of field operations at the UN human rights office in Geneva.

French authorities say they are investigating the abuse allegations and will punish anyone found responsible.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption French authorities say they are now investigating 14 soldiers in connection with abuse allegations in Central African Republic
Image copyright EPA
Image caption French President Francois Hollande - seen here in the Central African Republic in May - has promised that the perpetrators of any abuse will be punished

In an interview with the humanitarian news agency IRIN, Mr Kompass said he was departing because of "the complete impunity for those who have been found to have, in various degrees, abused their authority, together with the unwillingness of the hierarchy to express any regrets for the way they acted towards me".

"This makes it impossible for me to keep working there," he said.

In July 2014, Mr Kompass leaked a confidential UN report on the alleged sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic to prosecutors in France - the former colonial power - claiming the UN was taking too long to act.

French authorities are now investigating 14 soldiers in connection with the report's findings.

A study by independent experts in December revealed "gross institutional failure" by the UN in the way it responded to abuse allegations.

It said that children as young as nine were encouraged to have sex in exchange for food or money in conflict-ridden CAR.

A UN tribunal last year ruled that Mr Kompass's suspension was unlawful and he should be allowed to return to work.

The Swede has worked for the UN for more than 30 years.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the monitoring group UN Watch, told AFP news agency that many now see Mr Kompass as "a hero for trying to protect abused children, in contrast to other UN officials".

France intervened in its former colony in December 2013, nine months after a rebel alliance, Seleka, had captured the capital and ousted President Francois Bozize.

The country descended into ethnic and sectarian violence, with thousands of people fleeing their homes and the UN warning that there was a high risk of genocide.