Shocking details emerge of sexual harassment, graft at AU commission

African Union Headquarters
National flags of African countries in front of the African Union building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo/CNN

Investigations have revealed over 40 cases of sexual harassment and corruption at the African Union Commission.

In a five-page communique to newsrooms on Friday, the commission said an anonymous letter prompted Chairperson Moussa Faki to set up a team to probe the damning allegations.

“It is the finding of the Committee that incidents of sexual harassment exists in the Commission….Evidence presented suggests that this form of harassment is perpetuated by supervisors over female employees in their charge, especially, but not exclusively, during official missions outside the work station,” the statement reads in part.

The investigating team reported that senior members would use their positions to either intimidate junior staff or promise to extend their contracts in exchange for sexual favours.

It was also reported that both male and female employees lodged formal complaints citing harassment and bullying.

The High Level Committee charged with the investigation also revealed allegations of abuse of authority, bribery, bullying, corruption and corrupt practice as part of the 44 cases that were reported.

Fraud, discrimination, intimidation, misconduct, retaliation, victimisation, impunity, whistle-blowing and lack of due process also pushed the committee to question 88 individuals who are said to have complained.

The AU Commission Chairman has since vowed to protect victims and punish perpetrators.

“Given the above findings and serious allegations, the Commission resolves to reinforce its zero tolerance policy with the establishment of a comprehensive sexual harassment policy that protects the victims and takes the strongest punitive measures against any perpetrator,” the statement reads.

The investigating team also urged the AU Commission leadership to review its organisational structure, provide guarantees to short-term contract holders to avoid abuses to concerned staff and enact a sexual harassment policy.

Other recommendations include audits of gender, skills and lifestyle of employees at the AU commission.

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