15 SEPTEMBER 2011
|INDEPENDENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SERVICE IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR WORK
Following is a statement by U.N. Staff Union on recent arrest and detention of U.N. staff:
The Staff Union and its Committee on the Security and Independence of the International Civil Service deplores the recent deliberate intimidatory
actions directed at the United Nations staff by the Governments of the Sudan and Cambodia. Such actions represent a breach of the independence of
the international civil service and undermine the ability of the United Nations to carry out its mission. This growing trend of deliberate acts is
affecting the ability of the United Nations to carry out its mission, and undermines the fundamental principle that allows the Organization and its
staff to operate.
In the Sudan, there is concern for the safety and security of Hawa Abdullah Mohammed, a staff member of the United Nations-African Union Mission
in Darfur (UNAMID). She was arrested on 5 May by national security personnel at her home in Abu Shouk, a camp for internally displaced persons where
she worked. She is reportedly being denied contact with lawyer and family in spite of the call for the immediate and unconditional release of Ms.
Abdullah and another civilian staff member by UNAMID head Ibrahim Gambari, who stated that their arrest contravened the Status of Forces Agreement
between UNAMID and the Government. Under the Agreement, the Government should inform UNAMID of criminal offences committed by its staff, presenting
Also in the Sudan, the Sudan Armed Forces on 22 June arrested six United Nations staff members of southern origin at the airport in the state
capital, Kadugli, as they were being relocated from the northern state of South Kordofan. They were among 23 Sudanese staff being flown to the
southern city of Wau as part of the relocation plan of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). The authorities did not present to UNMIS any
evidence of illegal activities. Two were subsequently released.
The arrests come soon after Sudan Armed Forces soldiers detained and harassed four UNMIS peacekeepers in Kadugli, subjecting them to a mock
execution on 16 June.
In Cambodia Seng Kunakar, an employee of the United Nations World Food Programme, was released on 20 June after serving a six-month prison term
for sharing with co-workers articles printed from an anti-government website. According to media reports, he was arrested on 17 December 2010 and
convicted of "criminal incitement" in what some have called an ongoing campaign of intimidation against United Nations staff by the Cambodian
In May, Christophe Peschoux, the head of the Cambodia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, was forced to leave the country. His
departure came months after Prime Minister Hun Sen was reported as saying that he wanted the office closed and Mr. Peschoux dismissed.
The Staff Union and its Committee called on the Sudan and Cambodia to respect due process as well as the international character of the United
Nations and its personnel. In particular, detained staff must not be held without charge and must be expeditiously brought before a regular trial,
and freedom of movement of staff to do their work must be ensured. The Committee requests the Sudan to release all staff members unconditionally
and without delay.
The Staff Union expressed deep concern about the impact of these incidents on the staff members and their families and the operations and
functions of the United Nations. They urge Member States, especially those that are parties to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of
the United Nations, such as the Sudan and Cambodia, to honour their obligations.