One of the draft Directive’s most significant features is the shield on civil and criminal liability when the whistleblower makes a protected report. The Council’s proposal (Article 15, at 50) qualifies that there only is immunity if the whistleblower “had reasonable grounds to believe that the reporting or disclosure was necessary for revealing a breach pursuant to this Directive.”
This unprecedented new requirement would mean it is not safe to have engaged in “protected” speech. The whistleblower also must properly guess whether his or her disclosure was indispensable, and then again whether a court would agree. Otherwise, the whistleblower will be defenseless against criminal or civil prosecution.
It would be unprecedented in global whistleblower law to impose a second test for protection against retaliation – the importance of the whistleblower. To date protected speech always and only has depended on the credibility and significance of the whistleblower’s disclosure.
WIN are pleased to publish the first of three video bulletins about serious problems with the EU draft Directive on whistleblowing put together by Tom Devine and the Government Accountability Project (GAP). These videos and the accompanying text summarise key issues in the proposed directive and offer robust solutions to improve the Directive and enhance whistleblower protection in Europe.
The remaining videos will be published throughout the day so keep your eye on our website and Twitter feed!
The Directive includes a new precondition to qualify for protected speech and trigger anti-retaliation rights. It no longer will be enough to prove a reasonable belief of disclosing misconduct. The employee also must first prove that the knowledge or evidence was “lawfully acquired in the context of his or her work-related activities.” (Article 3 Definition, at 36).
This additional requirement for protection would be unprecedented in global whistleblower laws. Normally the issue is considered as part of an employer’s independent justification in the reverse burden of proof. This new structure means the whistleblower’s methods will be put on trial as the opening issue in every retaliation case. Whistleblowers would have to win that battle first, even to challenge retaliation.
Today, 7 November 2017
A number of concerned organisations signed a joint WIN letter to the relevant Ministers of the Polish Government expressing deep concerns about the draft provisions purporting to offer “whistleblower protection” as contained in the Draft Law on Transparency in Public Life. We urge the Polish Government to reject these as not fit for purpose.
07 November 2017
The organisations and leaders within WIN, the Whistleblowing International Network, have worked in the field of public interest whistleblower law and practice for close to 40 years. Our expertise has been sought by national governments and judicial and law enforcement authorities, amongst many others around the world, looking to enhance their legal and institutional protections for whistleblowing. Our members have played a leading role at the Council of Europe, the European Union, the OECD and the United Nations as part of their mandates to support good governance and democratic accountability, the rule of law and human rights.
We write to express our unqualified agreement with the attached concerns expressed by the Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego (Stefan Batory Foundation), Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka, (The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights) and Instytut Spraw Publicznych (Institute of Public Affairs) about draft provisions of a “whistleblower” law recently proposed by the Minister, Special Services Coordinator, in the draft law on transparency of public life. The proposal purports to provide whistleblower protection for those who report evidence of certain criminal offences to the prosecutor. These provisions do not fall within the definitions nor spirit of legal whistleblower rights in any other country. Even if relevant, the provisions fail to meet even one of some 20 internationally accepted legal standards and best practices for whistleblower protection, and appear to violate European standards which includes the most recent 2015 PACE Resolution and Recommendation on Improving the Protection of whistleblowers. Continue reading
WIN is delighted to publish this guest blog – the first analysis of the new French law to protect whistleblowers adopted in 2016. This is a preliminary pass through the new law’s provisions which the author trusts will help stimulate discussion and encourage further analysis.
Jean-Philippe Foegle is a PhD candidate at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense” in Paris and visiting researcher at the Information Society Project, Yale Law School. His research focuses on the regulation of whistleblowing in France, the US and the UK. Jean-Philippe is also helping to coordinate a two-year research project funded by the French Ministry of Justice to explore how the implementation of Council of Europe’s Recommendation on the Protection of Whistleblowers could improve the efficacy of of French whistleblower protection.
The new French law on the protection of whistleblowers reflects a paradox. Although many prominent whistleblowers are French citizens – think, for example, of Antoine Deltour or Hervé Falciani – it was not until 2013 that real protection for whistleblowers emerged in the wake of corruption and environmental scandals. Before the passage of fragmented legislation protecting whistleblowers in France, most whistleblowers were nevertheless protected through the case-law of the French courts. This protection remained largely theoretical, however, due to long delays in court proceedings : it took almost ten years before the prominent environmental whistleblower André Cicolella was finally able to his case beyond the French private law supreme court, the “Cour de Cassation”.