WIN connects and strengthens civil society organizations that defend and support whistleblowers. The Network provides counsel, tools and expertise needed by those working in their countries to address corruption, waste, fraud, abuse, illegality and threats to the public interest.
The Swiss government was on track to pass whistleblowing legislation that could have harmed whistleblowers. Dr. Yasmine Motarjemi and Alison Glick explain how input from advocates, whistleblowers and civil society changed the course of that legislation. On May 15, Le News published this op/ed, which WIN republishes with permission here http://bit.ly/1FdnzpW
The article below has been reproduced with permission from RootsAction.org. Please see European events at the end of the Article.
Our Chance to Aid and Encourage Whistleblowers
We would know much less about what our governments do were it not for those who are part of our governments – until something becomes too horrible for their moral threshold – who see a means available to inform the public. What this fact says about the proportion of governmental activity that is shameful is worth considering.
Whistleblowers in general have the broad support of the public. Even their biggest enemies got into office by falsely promising to defend and honor them. But individual whistleblowers are often effectively demonized by the corporate media while being persecuted and prosecuted by the government they have assisted.
With the first all-Conservative cabinet since the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) was enacted, Public Concern at Work – the UK’s Whistleblowing Charity – asks what the future holds for whistleblower protection in the UK.
Cathy James, Chief Executive (London). Here at Public Concern at Work we are geared up to continue our campaign to reform the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) as well as seeking much needed clarity in other areas that impact on workplace freedom of speech.
While PIDA is a rare example (globally) of a whistleblower protection law that is broad in scope, it is in need of reform. This is why we set up an independent commission in February 2013, to oversee a public consultation and gather evidence to examine the state of whistleblowing in the UK, including the effectiveness of PIDA.
We are pleased to present an analysis of this important new law by one of WIN’s founding members. Bea Edwards is the International Program and Executive Director of the Government Accountability Project.
As noted in the October post by Serbian journalist Vladimir Radomirović, WIN played an important role in helping to strengthen the Serbian whistleblowing law that will take effect 5 June 2015. WIN Director Anna Myers was involved in early discussions organized by the Serbian Information Commissioner as the formal task of drafting the law began but most importantly, legal and practice knowledge was shared by experts inside and outside of the country via the WIN network throughout the process. In 2014, Ms. Myers coordinated a letter from WIN’s founding members to Serbian parliamentarians recommending some additional changes to strengthen the law. One of the suggestions – allowing the Anti-Corruption Agency to continue playing an early role in protecting whistleblowers – was heeded.
Yesterday, nine whistleblowers from the United Nations Secretariat, Peacekeeping Operations, Funds, Programs and Specialized Agencies, together with the Government Accountability Project, sent an open letter to the Secretary General, setting out the facts about retaliation against whistleblowers throughout the UN system. In the letter, the signatories describe the pattern of reprisal they experienced after reporting wrongdoing. Although they recognize the Secretary General’s rhetorical commitment to anti-retaliation policies at the UN, they assert that, in practice, whistleblowers suffer ruinous retaliation, and existing policies fail to protect them.
Ian Richards, President of the UN Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA), endorsed the letter with a statement on behalf of his constituency.
by Alison Glick
Attacks on NGOs, journalists and other civil society actors are at an all-time high in Egypt. A new report paints a bleak picture of their future.
The Egyptian government threatening civil society organizations (CSO) is nothing new. Practically since such organizations emerged in Egypt, the authorities have used a variety of intimidation tactics to curtail their work and effectiveness on issues ranging from economic justice to women’s equality to human rights. Despite such efforts, civil society flourished in Egypt: Before the January 2011 revolt against the Mubarak regime, over 26,000 officially registered non-governmental organizations existed in Egypt, along with hundreds of others not registered with the government.
But since the July 2013 coup that brought Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power, the situation for civil society in Egypt has deteriorated radically. Under Threat: Egypt’s Systematic Campaign against NGOs, a new report by the Project on Middle East Democracy, details a sophisticated and methodical attack on non-governmental organizations by the Sisi government that, for the first time, seriously threatens their continued existence. Continue reading
Minister’s announcement curtailing employees’ press contact undermines spirit of whistleblower protection law
The announcement by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office in the UK, has changed civil servant rules to say that government employees are only allowed to speak to the media after obtaining prior consent from the minister is a real head in hands moment for anyone following recent developments around whistleblowing.
In December last year the head of the UK civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood wrote in no uncertain terms that whistleblowers should be championed and that we, the public, were indebted to those who exposed wrongdoing or malpractice meanwhile committing the Civil Service to openness and transparency:
“Transparency means not being able to pick and choose what is visible to scrutiny. It should shine a light into every corner of public life and public service. We fatally compromise this principle if we allow uncomfortable truths to be hidden or covered up.” Continue reading
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights published its draft report on Improving the Protection of Whistleblowers in light of the revelations of Edward Snowden [19 March 2015].
The Committee stressed the importance of ensuring that secrecy for reasons of national security does not act as a cover for wrongdoing or is used to stifle public debate and calls on all member States to ensure whistleblower protection covers all those working in national security and intelligence-related fields.
This Committee held two inquiries and its first report on Mass Surveillance was published only weeks ago in January 2015.
by Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project, a founding member of WIN
Just before Christmas 2014, the Organization of American States (OAS) set a new standard for whistleblower rights at Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs). On December 17, 2014, the OAS adopted a new staff policy setting out rights that are unsurpassed either at the IGO or national level. Stung by a U.S. funding cutoff due to a previously weak whistleblower policy, the OAS moved to strengthen its policy to include some of the latest international best practices in matters relating to protection of whistleblowers. Below is a summary of provisions in the new policy, with a comparison to summary principles now accepted as global best practices.
The policy can be found at http://www.oas.org/legal/english/gensec/EXOR1403_APPENDIX_A.doc
In light of the recent release of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary of its report on torture, Ben Buckland explores the role of whistleblowers in exposing one of the gravest human rights abuses.
There is a common perception that whistleblowers are those who go to the media, a perception fed by a number of high profile leaks in the recent past. But whistleblowing can also be—indeed, is much more commonly—the disclosure of information within the ring of secrecy. The most common type of whistleblower is one who passes information showing wrongdoing directly to an oversight institution that has a statutory right to receive, to process, and to act on it, even when it is classified or otherwise confidential.
This kind of information, coming directly from individuals, is essential to the proper functioning of oversight institutions. It is particularly important when they are involved in the oversight of often closed and secretive security institutions, when (without the help of insiders) they may not even be sure what to look for or where to look for it. Continue reading