A woman who had accused the United Nations Population Fund’s India representative of sexually harassing her has claimed that the United Nations is obstructing a police investigation in India, The Guardian reported on Thursday. The woman said the UN was claiming immunity for its staff.
The complainant is a former consultant at the United Nations Population Fund’s Bihar office. In February, she had filed a First Information Report with the Bihar Police against Diego Palacios. The woman alleged that Palacios groped her while they were in a lift together, and asked for sexual favours in return for a work contract in March 2017. In January, she was offered a short-term contract for UNFPA but she declined it as she did not want to work under Palacios.
“I realised the power of this man and how vulnerable I was,” the woman said. “But people like Diego, who abuse their power and treat women like commodities, should be punished.”
On August 10, the agency issued a statement that an independent investigative body has found that the woman’s allegation were unsubstantiated.
The woman had written a complaint addressed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on February 2, asking for Palacios’ diplomatic immunity to be waived, The Times of India reported.
The UN agency later wrote to the External Affairs Ministry, saying Palacios and two other UNFPA employees were “immune from legal process in respect...of acts performed by them in their official capacity, unless and until the secretary general of the United Nations has decided to waive their immunity”.