In a turn of events, the United Nations AIDS agency fired two employees for financial and sexual misconduct including a whistleblower who alleged sexual misconduct by a senior director forcibly kissing and dragging her out of an elevator in Bangkok in 2015.
While Martina Brostrom publicly accused a supervisor of sexual misconduct last year, in a UN internal probe, Bromstrom and the supervisor were investigated for their sexual and financial misconduct, according to reports.
The internal probe that was reported in April, UN officials said they had "evidence" Brostrom and a supervisor had taken part in "fraudulent practices and misuse of travel funds." It was revealed that the two were warned for "abusing UN privileges by requesting special UN rates for the purpose of booking hotels for sexual encounters," as per documents obtained by the Associated Press.
Investigators also found the two staffers used their work email accounts "to exchange messages with explicit sexual language, profanity and nudity."
However, Bromstrom has maintained her stance saying that she raised alarm about the 2015 incident by reported the assault to her family, friends and senior UNAIDS official on several occasions between 2015 and 2016, her lawyer Edward Flaherty was quoted as saying.
Bromstorm accused the UN organisation of firing her last week for raising her voice against sexual assault to the public. "I spoke up about what happened to me and what was happening in UNAIDS. As a consequence, I have suffered tremendously," she said in a statement. Brostrom's supervisor who was also held responsible for the misconduct in the internal probe was also terminated.
Incident garners international attention
The incident has garnered international attention as Brostrom's claims were one of the few that started the #MeToo movement at the UN. Her accusations led to the opening of two inquiries by the international organisation, one which concluded that her claims lacked sufficient evidence and the other which found the organisation guilty of having a 'culture of impunity and defective leadership'.
UN spokeswoman Sophie Barton-Knott in a statement said, "two staff members were dismissed from UNAIDS after an independent investigation concluded beyond reasonable doubt that they had misused UNAIDS corporate funds and resources and had engaged in other misconduct, including sexual misconduct." She also said the investigation began eight months before Bromstorm spoke about the incident last year.
While Bromstorm's lawyer said that she 'categorically denies the allegations', Barton Knott said claims of the female staffer being fired as payback for lodging a sexual assault complaint were "baseless and misleading."