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U.N. Whistleblower Shines Light on Human Trafficking and Private Militaries

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 1 2013 (IPS) - “It is bittersweet to be back inside (U.N. walls) after twelve years and virtually being kicked out on my ass on its front steps in Bosnia,” said Kathryn Bolkovac at an event hosted by the U.N. Bookshop.

“Sorry to be blunt,” she added.

In 1999, DynCorp – a private military contractor – hired Bolkovac as a U.N. police investigator.  Shortly afterwards, Bolkovac blew the lid off a human trafficking scandal that involved fellow U.N. staff members and DynCorp employees.

“I observed many diverse and inexcusable acts,” she said.  “I interviewed international police officers and international aid workers who admittedly purchased foreign women to keep at home with them as their girlfriends; I become aware of rape tapes that were being circulated by (DynCorp) contractors on military bases.”

After exposing the evidence to high-level U.N. personnel, “I was immediately accused of being burnt out. Then (I was) demoted and terminated”, she continued.

“I took my employer DynCorp to (court) in a British employment tribunal, and won my case in a unanimous decision,” she concluded.

Bolkovac is now active in supporting other whistleblowers and human trafficking victims.  “This is what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.  It’s inside me now,” she said.

“Whistleblowers are usually excellent employees who in the course of doing their jobs stumble upon evidence of wrongdoing and feel compelled to address it,” she explained.

“Often, managers react to disclosures by attacking whistleblowers (rather) than addressing the problem,” she continued.

“Whistleblowers can develop lifelong depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and a variety of other mental and physical problems without proper support,” she added.

Bolkovac also applauded the work of director Larysa Kondracki, who transformed Bolkovac’s story into a film entitled “The Whistleblower” (2010).

“The film is a very powerful and violent message about what’s actually happening in the world today with these human trafficking victims,” said Bolkovac.

“The book and the film are being utilized as education tools in universities across the world,” she added.

During his opening remarks, Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in the U.N. Department of Public Information, noted that the U.N. screened Kondracki’s film in October 2011 at the request of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

 
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