Partnering globally to support whistleblowing


WIN Director Anna Myers gives opening plenary talk at International Whistleblowing  Conference, Amsterdam, June 2014

WIN Director Anna Myers gives opening plenary talk at International Whistleblowing Conference, Amsterdam, June 2014

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 EU Trade Directive: Money talks — and buys silence

MWoods Dec 2014Martin Woods discusses the implications of silencing corporate whistleblowers when doing so has such wide-ranging negative public impact.

We live in a world where money has become the ultimate goal – where millions worship at the altar of the dollar.  Far too often the value of money has taken primacy over the value of human life.  In my own professional life, I’ve seen a banker’s appetite for cash outweigh the casualties produced by money laundering. The drive for profit can even outrank the importance of food safety, and the need to increase market share and revenue leads to compromised research, as some drug companies trade health for wealth.  The obsession with balancing the books sees standards drop in care homes and hospitals, where all too often the welfare of the elderly and vulnerable is placed in the hands of low cost, untrained, people.  The examples worldwide are too numerous to relate and too depressing in their similarity.

The proposed EU Trade Directive[1] appears to codify this creed.  It has been proposed by the EU Commission[2] and is supported by Member States. Of course support also comes from the new cult leaders — the executives of big business who have a lot to gain and a lot to lose. The same executives who worship the underlying assumption that greed is a legitimate value and that whistleblowing must be punished, have lobbied for such laws that protect their creed.  Aided by their lawyers – who long ago sold their souls – these money mad, power men have sought to silence those who speak out against them.  Through the Trade Directive[3], the executives appear to have persuaded European politicians that employees who externally report corporate “information” – some of which could easily point to criminality – should themselves be guilty of a crime.  Just when the public needs more information than ever, to hold to account those responsible for corporate conduct in multinationals and banks, or for the activities of governments cooperating across borders, the EU Trade Directive appears to deliver the exact opposite. Continue reading

Statement on 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Malaysia


Certain WIN affiliates and partners will be participating in next week’s International Anti-Corruption Conference in Malaysia. We do so to highlight the need for serious anti-corruption efforts globally, and to support our partners in Malaysia who are working under difficult circumstances to fight corruption in their country. We also support our partners’ decisions not to participate in the conference if they determine that is the best course of action for them.  We endorse statements made by TI Malaysia in the run-up to the conference about the ongoing corruption scandal involving Malaysia’s Prime Minister Rajib Razak. These statements call for independent and credible investigations into the allegations, guarantees of and respect for press freedom, and robust action against cross-border corruption. WIN was founded to address the need for cross-border cooperation to protect whistleblowers precisely because we recognized the transnational nature of the corruption they expose.

We look forward to sharing our ideas and hearing those of others on whistleblower protection and the role of investigative journalism in fighting fraud and abuse.

If you see something, say something – unless we don’t want you to

by Alison Glick

Australian detention facility on Papa New Guinea

Australian detention facility on Papa New Guinea

It shouldn’t be a crime to report a crime, but increasingly it is.

From the land Down Under to the U.S. hinterland, whistleblowers are being threatened with prosecution for exposing abuses in both the public and private sectors – a phenomenon that bodes ill for holding authorities accountable and for protecting basic rights to free speech and information.

The push to criminalize employees and interested citizens documenting and reporting abuses, illegality, and threats to public safety continues to gain momentum, as do efforts to resist the crackdown. It seems that the mantra “If you see something, say something” applies only in certain situations, and most assuredly not in ones that embarrass governments or narrow their corporate benefactors’ profit margins. Continue reading

Whistleblowing Protection in the Netherlands: Latest Developments

Rik van Steenbergen is Policy Advisor Labour Quality/Employment Law with the Dutch Federation of Trade Unions (FNV) which has actively supported public interest whistleblowing in the Netherlands for many years.

The Dutch approach to regulation in practically all spheres of social life is a very pragmatic one: an issue is raised and debated, a consensus is sought, a policy is set out on a limited scale, and after evaluation it gets implemented more broadly.  Then it is evaluated and amended again.

Whistleblowing is an issue that has been taken very seriously in the Netherlands and much debated over the last 15 years. The Dutch term for whistleblower, introduced by professor Mark Bovens in 1987, is ‘klokkenluider’, meaning bell-ringer. Continue reading

Developments in Swiss Whistleblowing Law Demonstrate Impact of Civil Society


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

International Whistleblowing Week Starts Today

The article below has been reproduced with permission from  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.

Continue reading

What next for UK whistleblowers?


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.

Continue reading

Hopes are High for New Serbian Whistleblower Law

SErbiaFlag 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.
Continue reading

UN Whistleblowers Call for Urgent Review of UN Whistleblower Protections in Open Letter to Ban Ki-moon


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.

Civil Society Facing Unprecedented Threat in Egypt


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