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UN whistleblower fired for calling foul over China as Blackburn slams China’s 'malign influence' at world body

UN whistleblower fired for calling foul over China as Blackburn slams China’s ‘malign influence’ at world body


Un whistleblower at U.N. Human Rights office warned that China had obtained information about dissidents who were coming to the U.N. Human Rights office. She was fired. 

Emma Reilly was fired within 24 hours after she gave an interview to Le Monde, the French leading newspaper. It was Reilly’s case that alerted many to the growing influence of China within the U.N. system. 

Reilly notified her U.N. bosses when she learned that the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) — on the request of China — handed over names of dissidents who were coming to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. Reilly stated that this led to Beijing putting pressure on dissidents to not make the trip. 

Others, including her, claimed that the Chinese authorities had threatened their families. In some cases, this resulted in torture, arrests and even death.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who has authored a bill aimed at curbing Beijing’s influence at the U.N., told Fox News in a statement that more needs to be done in reigning in China at the world body.


She stated that “The Chinese Communist Party’s malign influence campaign within the United Nations has been an open secret, which continually places the lives of China’s dissidents in danger.” 

“The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to Beijing’s egregious abuse. No whistleblower should be fired for exposing how the U.N. is aiding Communist China’s exploitation and abuse of the Muslim Uyghurs. In order to increase America’s influence in the United Nations, and expose the CCP and its crimes earlier in the year, I introduced The United Nations Transparency and Accountability Act.

Reilly shared with Fox News the content of her letter from the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Human Resources, which listed reasons for her firing. Her offenses include communicating with media outlets such as Fox News and U.N. members states. The U.S. is one of these.

Additionally, it notes that she had communication with USUN Missions New York, Geneva and the State Department. A staffer of the Senate Appropriations Committee was also present.

Fox News’ Reilly said that “the U.N. accuses” him only of not following an order to remain silent. I’m not being accused of lying. As a Human Rights Officer and as an individual, I was obliged to inform the media when my reports were not being accepted by governments or superiors. Standing with oppressors is better than being silent. This will remain the responsibility of the Secretary-General, and the High Commissioner to Human Rights.


Reilly, a human rights lawyer and a U.K.-Irish national told Fox News that despite being aware of her case, the U.S., U.K. and Ireland didn’t get involved.

“No government has ever reached out, contact with me was initiated by myself,” she stated. All any government did was ask U.N. officials about China’s relationship and take down their answers. They were first informed by the U.N. that names of dissidents had never been given, that this was an ongoing process, and that it had ended years earlier. This inconsistency has never been challenged or challenged by the government. I also provided evidence to the U.N. that China handing over names is policy.

Reilly stated that the U.N. hierarchy placed China’s interests above human rights and whistleblower protection.

Elle stated that while democracies waited and did nothing, they needed to recognize the U.N. independence, which simply doesn’t exist.

She continued, “Maybe it did, but the Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights are not speaking out on the biggest network of concentration camps after the Nazis. It’s not that they are doing back-room diplomacy.” China has been for some time the paymaster. Democracies should step in and demand that the U.N. respects its charter before too much time passes. They rely on whistleblowers for real information. Who will speak out now?

Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

In an earlier article, a spokesperson for the United States U.N. Mission stated to Fox News that “we believe such issues should first be addressed within U.N. venues prior to we comment.” However, when Fox News asked for U.S. commentary on the topic, they received no response and sent it to the United Nations spokesperson.

Anna Myers is the executive director at the Whistleblowing International Network. WIN, an international organization which works to protect and support whistleblowers said that this situation was “outrageous.”

“There are just too many cases of good people at the United Nations being crushed when they speak up about serious problems, including sexual abuse,” she said. This is absurd. If member states don’t demand that the U.N. adopt 21st-century protections for whistleblowers, they will allow them to continue carrying the burden. You can make sure U.N. whistleblowers have protection for reporting directly to you.

Tuesday saw WIN issue a statement on behalf of civil societies with at most 41 signatories. This included the U.S.-based Government Accountability Project. The statement condemned Reilly’s firing and called upon U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres “to commit publicly to critical reforms to ensure U.N. whistleblower protections are brought into the 21st century.”

“It’s imperative that Antonio Guterres (Secretary-General) and the U.N. General Assembly acknowledge the U.N. inner justice system is broken, and publicly commit to reforms to ensure U.N. whistleblower safeguards are brought into 21st century.”

A United Nations spokesman asked about Reilly’s firing by a New York Sun reporter claimed that Reilly was not a whistleblower.

The person stated that Ms. Reilly was not recognised as a whistleblower for the issues she raised. “We have a robust framework that protects people from retaliation. We continue to keep it up.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen leading other top officials pledging their vows to the party on screen during a gala show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. An avalanche of changes launched by China's ruling Communist Party has jolted everyone from tech billionaires to school kids. Behind them: Xi's vision of reviving an idealized early era of vigorous party leadership, with more economic equality and tighter control over society and billionaire entrepreneurs. 

Yet the statement seems to be at odds with the U.N.’s own review of her status as a whistleblower, according to the WIN statement, which referred to Guterres as stating, “We repeat here what the Alternate Chair of the Ethics Panel wrote in his decision in Ms. Reilly’s case in July 2020:

“Ms. Reilly … was interested in human rights and protection of human rights activists. OHCHR was, by virtue of the Complainant’s whistleblowing, placed in a very awkward diplomatic position by a human rights issue that it struggled to handle well. A whistleblower’s reporting of such a practice, which was contrary to fundamental U.N. principles and values, is exactly the sort of activity that must be protected; it is far more important than minor infractions of bureaucratic rules, which the system finds it much more easy to classify as protected.

WIN it its letter concludes that, “protecting public interest whistleblowers is no longer a niche issue, if it ever was, it is essential to upholding human rights and protecting the public’s right to know. “The United Nations should lead this way.”

Fox News received the letter from Reilly. A U.N spokesperson said that it was not normal for the office to discuss internal matters. This is to safeguard both the Organization and the person concerned. Ms. Reilly made public a confidential communication she received in this case.

A spokesperson stated, “I can verify that the communication was sent to and received by Ms. Reilly.” Because this would negatively impact any current process, which has already been initiated or may be contemplated, I won’t comment on its substance and/or details.


Fox News reports that Reilly has not given up on her fight and plans to continue challenging the U.N. system in court. She noted the inequity and institutionalized bias that these courts displayed, and said she would also challenge the U.N. 

She said, “I will also be challenging donor governments that allow taxpayer money to go on complicity for human rights abuses with no oversight whatsoever.” The U.N. does not have any control over these courts or oversight agencies.


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