The United Nations has dismissed an Indian official employed at the organisation’s agency for women empowerment after eight men accused him of sexual misconduct, PTI reported.
An almost 15-month investigation determined that the allegations were true. Though the UN has not named the official throughout the investigation, several reports identified him as Ravi Karkara in New York. He served as senior adviser on strategic partnerships and advocacy to the assistant secretary general and deputy executive director of UN Women.
“The investigative and disciplinary processes into allegations involving a UN Women staff member have concluded that sexual misconduct occurred,” the organisation’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a statement published on Tuesday. “As a result, I have dismissed the staff member; this is the strongest disciplinary measure available within the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations. Consequently, the staff member is prohibited from employment within the UN system.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the accused would not be protected by diplomatic immunity. Although the UN Women does not have the authority to prosecute him, it said it would bring the allegations of criminal conduct to the attention of relevant national authorities, she added.
“UN Women stands ready to cooperate with any national authority that decides to investigate this matter,” the statement read. “UN Women has made every effort to offer victim support throughout the investigation. We hold ourselves accountable to ensure a victim-centred approach in fulfilment of our mandate to advance and protect gender equality as a fundamental human right.”
Earlier this year, Newsweek reported that the official was accused of “touching or grabbing a subordinate’s genitals in a hotel room, using work devices to send pornography and follow-up questions to male subordinates, creating a climate of sexual innuendo and obscene gestures in the workplace, and using his position and access as leverage to initiate sexual encounters”.
The UN Development Programme’s Office of Audit and Investigation had carried out the investigation into the allegations. A report was submitted to the UN Women at the end of August.
“This is UN Women showing that we take this seriously, while the executive director has made clear to staff she understands there is still work to be done and we will work to further create a climate where people feel safe to report,” UN Women’s spokesperson Purna Sen told The Guardian.