World Bulletin / News Desk
Anders Kompass, the senior United Nations aid worker who leaked a UN report containing allegations French soldiers sexually abused children as young as nine in the Central Republic of Africa, has been suspended.
U.N. human rights office spokesperson Rupert Colville confirmed on Friday that Kompass was suspended with full pay for leaking to French authorities the documents in which children detailed alleged acts of abuse, and that an investigation into his conduct was under way.
Colville said the UN's main concern over the leak involved the potential harm to victims after their identities were revealed.
He said: "Victims, witnesses and investigators may be extremely vulnerable to reprisals.
"We know of plenty of cases elsewhere where they have disappeared."
"I think any implication that (U.N. human rights chief) Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein would try to cover up sexual abuse of children is frankly offensive and highly unlikely if you look at his personal history," Colville added.
He said that French officials had been investigating the "extremely serious" allegations of sexual abuse since July last year.
He went on: "The allegations about what happened to these children are abhorrent.
"The details, contained in interviews with alleged victims and witnesses by U.N. investigators last summer, including one of our staff, are utterly odious."
France's Defense Ministry said on Thursday it would impose the "strongest penalties" against any French soldiers who committed child sex abuse offences in the CAR.
France deployed 1,600 soldiers to restore peace in the Central African Republic -- its former colony -- under a U.N. mandate in 2013.