UN Staff Member Accused of Domestic Violence Arrested in Kenya

UN legal officer Alphonse Kambu, accused of assaulting his ex-partner (credit: The Star/Kenya)

UN legal officer Alphonse Kambu, accused of assaulting his ex-partner (credit: The Star/Kenya)

Nov. 4, 2015 – A legal officer with the UN Environmental Program was arrested in Kenya on Wednesday to answer allegations that he brutally assaulted his ex-partner and mother of their 3-year-old child.

Alphonse Kambu, 42, will appear in a Nairobi court on Thursday to enter a plea, according to local media. The Nairobi News reported that the victim, 26-year-old Ruth Gakki, said that Kambu came to her home on October 21 while drunk and demanded food from the staff working at the house.

“Immediately I came from the bedroom, he slapped, kicked me and smashed me against the wall. At this point, the house-help fled with the baby leaving me behind helpless,” Ms. Gakii told Nairobi News.

Ruth Gakki ar Nairboi Women's Hospital (credit: Star, Kenya)

Ruth Gakki at Nairobi Women’s Hospital (credit: Star, Kenya)

Kambu, a native of Papua New Guinea, has worked in various capacities for the United Nations since 2002, including as a lecturer for the United Nations University. He has worked for UNEP, which is headquartered in the Kenyan capital, since May 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Ms. Gakki has said that the alleged October 21 incident was not the first time he assaulted her but each time she reports it to authorities Kambu cites diplomatic immunity and has not been charged.

In an email to Nairobi News, UNEP said that it would co-operate with the police investigation and that staff members only enjoy immunity for words spoken or written and for acts performed in an official capacity.

“Without prejudice to the privileges and immunities accorded to the United Nations and its staff members, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect local laws,” read the statement from UNEP.

According to UN Women, up to 70 percent of women have experienced either physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner at some stage in their lives.

It is estimated that almost half of women killed globally are killed by a partner, ex-partner or family member, compared with six percent of men.

– Denis Fitzgerald
@denisfitz