SO YOU ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION - YOUR RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS
Most staff members of the United Nations are very busy with their day to day lives but may suddenly find themselves in a very uncomfortable position when their activities come under internal investigation. Few are aware of their rights while most are not aware or ill informed of the process. The following is a guide to those who may have concerns or interests. This summary is based on "due process" a fundamental right which should apply to all staff members as it does in most democratic countries.
1. What is being investigated?
You should know what is being investigated and should ask investigators of O.I.O.S (Office of Internal Oversight Section) for the specific allegations you are under investigation for. You should also ask for the allegations in writing. Ensure each allegation is specifically identified as to what Act, Regulation or Administrative Process.
2. Who shall Investigate?
The Staff Union is concerned that there are far too many investigation groups and / or persons without any investigative qualifications or integrity that carry out investigations throughout the UN. You should insist on having an unbiased qualified investigator from OIOS.
a) Is the allegation a breach of UN Administrative procedures?
Presently the head of Mission can designate someone to investigate. This is fundamentally feasible in some cases but in others it means that the investigation will be directed in a biased manner where the staff member will be disadvantaged.
b) Is the allegation a violation of the host countries Criminal Statues?
Presently Staff members are told that they are involved in a fact finding process and informed that they must inform OIOS of their involvement. Occasionally the fact finding evidence is then shared or turned into a criminal investigation. Again you must demand what you are being investigated for.
3. Type of Investigations
b) Code of Conduct
Presently all three types of investigations fall under the OIOS investigative "catch all" of fact finding. The Staff Expert Group strongly believes that these different investigations should be investigated separately with rights for staff members protected at all times. The Expert Group also believes that an alleged person should only be investigated for the specific allegation and not have to deal with other allegations that a fact finding investigation can uncover. In simple terms, Staff should not be subject of a "witch hunt".
It is difficult to ascertain the rights of Staff prior to OIOS being formed in 1994. Since then it is understood that staff members are not entitled to "due process" rights as they are informed that they
must give a statement and they
can not remain silent. Presently Staff members do not have the right to legal council or to be represented by a Staff Council Representative. Frequently staff members are not told why they are being investigated.
Since the start of the new Administration of Justice, 1 July 2009 Staff Council is determined to establish the fundamental right of "due process" within the United Nations. If you are under investigation you should consider the following:
a) You may choose to give a voluntary statement.
b) You may choose to remain silent. This is against OIOS policy but we believe you should have this right.
c) You should never be ordered to give a statement which is again OIOS policy. If you are, advise the investigator to wait until you have acquired proper council.
d) You have the right to withdraw from the interview process. We believe you should not be arbitrarily detained unless you are lawfully arrested by entrusted legal authorities where you allegedly broke the law. Otherwise if you are not granted time to seek advice or council, write your objections down and ensure the investigator records your objections.
e) If you are ordered to give a statement and feel obliged to do so, indicate to the investigator that you are only giving the statement because you are ordered to do so for the specific allegation.
f) Do not allow your statement to be used in other investigations or proceedings unless you consent to do so in writing. You should indicate that your statement cannot be used in other proceedings unless you give written consent.