COVID-19 - Whistleblowing Protection essential to fight against Corruption during Pandemic

April 28, 2020
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The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) acknowledges the crucial role of whistleblowers in managing the increased risk of corruption during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In newly published Guidance - “Corruption Risks and Useful Legal References in the context of COVID-19” - the protection of whistleblowers in the health sector is explicitly listed as a key competency in the fight against corruption and gross mismanagement during the pandemic.
Issued by Marin Mrčela, President of GRECO, the guidance states:
“Of particular importance is the need to ensure the protection of persons (whistleblowers) reporting suspicions of corruption, irrespective of the reporting lines they choose to pursue.”
The guidance refers Member States to Council Committee of Ministers Recommendation CM/Rec (2014)7 on the Protection of Whistleblowers, available in several languages - see also WIN’s resources library here.
GRECO highlights the fact that States are adopting emergency legislation in response to the pandemic, resulting in a significant shift of power to the executive branch. This reinforces the need for increased oversight, from the judiciary, ombuds institutions and the like, as well as civil society and the media. The facilitation and protection of whistleblowing disclosures, and importantly the protection of those who choose to report wrongdoing and abuses directly outside their employment is emphasized as critical to fulfilling this increased need for oversight.
The importance of protecting our freedoms of expression and access to information in the context of a global emergency, when so many lives and livelihoods are at risk could not be clearer.  Protecting whistleblowers is vital to keeping us all safer and informed.

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