Group representing more than 30 whistleblowers and anti-corruption groups around the world urges UN Secretary-General to protect Emma Reilly, a UN human rights lawyer who risked her career exposing Chinese influence undue at the UN
Reilly fears she will be fired for her efforts. She alerted her superiors at the UN Human Rights Office that at the request of China – his office restored names of dissidents who came to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Switzerland, including some US citizens.
Reilly said this resulted in pressure from Beijing on dissidents not to make the trip. She said this included pressure on their families which in some cases resulted in arrests, torture and, in one case, a person is believed to have died in custody.
Last week, a letter demanding action was sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN) calling on him “to immediately suspend any further action taken against” Reilly.
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The letter also noted that “it is essential that the United Nations – as the international defender of human rights around the world – take responsibility for any failure to protect human rights defenders, and we Call for a full, credible and independent investigation of Ms. Reilly’s initial concerns about the potentially harmful consequences of OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) staff sharing the names of activists of vulnerable human rights with the Chinese authorities. “
Anna Myers, executive director of WIN, told Fox News: “It’s a classic case of trying to get rid of a ‘problematic employee’ without considering the public policy issues at stake or the impact. really damaging it has on the credibility and reputation of the UN as a defender of human rights.
“The current United Nations internal justice system does not work to protect UN personnel who report wrongdoing or serious risk of harm,” Myers said. “It does not contain any of the basic elements that would give anyone a chance to survive. It is shameful and must change.”
Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the secretary general, did not want to say if Reilly was going to be fired for her efforts.
“There is a confidential internal process going on,” he told Fox News. “In order to respect the confidentiality of any internal process and the rights of Ms. Reilly, we are not free to comment.”
Dujarric confirmed that the letter sent by WIN had been received and that a response had been sent, but would not confirm if his boss had read it.
On the issue of revoking Reilly’s whistleblower status, the spokesperson said “Ms. Reilly was not recognized as a whistleblower regarding the practices she complained about.”
“From his first days in office, the Secretary General has strived to strengthen the organization’s whistleblower policy,” said Dujarric. “He will continue to make adjustments and improvements where necessary.”
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Reilly hit back that the UN was just protecting itself and its bureaucracy in her case.
As the UN leadership is well aware, I was recognized as a whistleblower in July 2020 regarding my UN Human Rights Office reports handing over names to the Chinese Communist Party. I have already published this conclusion in response to this latest UN lie, ”she said. written, adding a link to the results.
“UN rules require an investigation at this point,” she continued. “This investigation would have been very embarrassing for UN officials who argue in court that a better relationship with Beijing is worth sacrificing human rights activists and their families and ignoring the rules set by member states . “
She added that “the same UN officials who
carried out the cover-up for nearly a decade decided to break their own rules again and “investigate” me for speaking in public. I’m not accused of lying because the facts are not in dispute – UN Human Rights Office says it can, against written rules set by member states, secretly hand over names of activists of human rights to China. All I asked for was an external, independent investigation. If the UN has nothing to hide, why has it spent over $ 3 million to resist this?
Reilly concluded: “I have publicly stated on several occasions that I have no problem with the UN publicly commenting on any aspect of my case – I have nothing to hide, while those responsible for the The UN is hiding behind endless bureaucratic processes to justify a policy that amounts to complicity. in the genocide. “
In a statement to Fox News, US Senator Marsha Blackburn, R.-Tenn., Said it was “sadly not surprising to hear that the Chinese Communist Party has targeted, silenced and mistreated dissidents” .
“The United Nations is increasingly influenced by authoritarian regimes like Communist China. Congress must act and eliminate all malicious influence in the United Nations, starting with Beijing. and expose the threat that opposing countries pose to international organizations. “
A spokesperson for the United Nations Mission to the United Nations (USUN) told Fox News that they would await a UN decision.
“We are aware of Emma Reilly’s allegations regarding her own status under UN personnel rules,” they said. “We believe that such an issue should first be addressed in UN forums before commenting.”
Reilly wrote letters to USUN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield asking her to intervene, but so far, she said, to no avail.
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The US spokesperson seemed to disagree with Reilly’s claims.
“Until 2015, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) allowed UN member states to request information about their nationals who might attend UN meetings. the presence of NGOs or human rights defenders was only disclosed if the information was already in the public domain, “the spokesperson said.” We understand that this practice ceased when new rules were introduced. implemented in 2015, and we have no reason to believe that is not the case. “
Reilly disputed the statement, saying “No one would be more thrilled than me if my 2013 reports worked and it stopped in 2015. But when my case first came to the public in 2017, the UN admitted that the policy had continued. In 2019, the UN declared in court that it was still a policy. The UN even claimed in court the right to lie to member states and to the press. Internal documents show that Beijing always knows who comes to UN human rights meetings. If the UN is telling the truth this time, why haven’t they changed their position in front of the court, and why won’t they allow the investigation? ”
Edward Flaherty, an American lawyer based in Switzerland and who has represented several UN whistleblowers except Emma Reilly, told Fox News that “if the UN ends up firing Ms. Reilly, it will be a test. to find out if the US government means what successive administrations have said about their support for effective protection of whistleblowers at the UN under Section 7048. If the US does not protect Ms. Reilly for disclosing the UN complicity in human rights violations in China by handing over the names of dissidents (some of whom were US citizens) to China, what would make them act? “
Flaherty concluded: “Once again, her outdated immunity looks set to lead to total impunity on the part of the UN, at least in the case of Ms. Reilly.
The USUN spokesperson told Fox News that “the United States is committed to advocating for human rights defenders to enjoy freedom of expression and access to relevant and appropriate facilities and events. of ONU. In addition, the United States places the highest importance on protection from retaliation at the UN and other international organizations. We remain committed to working with other countries and civil society organizations to promote accountability and transparency within the United Nations system.
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