EU whistleblowers still at risk: An Update

flag-3370970_1920WIN’s Legal Briefs have been updated to include a response to the EU Council which is now scrutinising the draft directive. This update highlights growing concern that the much welcome improvements to the EU draft directive recently voted through the Parliamentary Committee will not replicated by the EU Council.

WIN is grateful to Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project in Washington DC, for his assistance in drafting this latest update.

The main problem, which the EU Council seems set to embrace and which was recently rejected by the JURI Committee in its Report, is that the draft directive reinforces employer control over the reporting of wrongdoing. It does so by making it a requirement for all those in a work-based relationship to report their concern to their employer first. While reporting internally will remain the default for the vast majority of whistleblowers and it makes sense for employers to do all they can to encourage their staff to speak up early, it is dangerous to make it a legal obligation.

Further, making staff use the channels that employers “officially” set up is almost worse. The vast majority of whistleblowers raise concerns as a normal part of doing their jobs and typically it is only as a result of the response they get, that they realise that something is really wrong. Formal reports of wrongdoing via official employer channels set up for that purpose will only ever capture the tip of the information the Directive seeks to protect; the iceberg is the routine reports of discovered problems though the supervisory chain of command and in sensitive assignments such as audits, inspection reports and reports of investigations. Very few people who report problems are doing so specifically to denounce misconduct or as dissidents.

WIN has drafted this Legal Brief in response to the EU Council to help Council members understand why it is important to remedy these structural problems in the draft directive as a matter of urgency.

We are also pleased to offer it to anyone interested in the protection of whistleblowers and in the detail of the debates that are happening in Europe right now.

See WIN‘s other Legal Briefs, including briefs on anonymity and remedies, in the WIN blog posted on 17 October 2018.

Whistleblowing advocacy groups call on Dutch Government to reconsider award to outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Issued today 31 August 2018

We, the undersigned, join the Government Accountability Project in expressing our concern about the decision of the Dutch Government to award the 2018 Human Rights Tulip to outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on 3 September 3 in The Hague. Our concerns are based on the responses to individual OHCHR whistleblowers who disclosed information about serious human rights violations, including the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic. We urge the Minister to reconsider proceeding with the award until the UN High Commissioner resolves the outstanding cases of retaliation against the publicly vindicated whistleblowers in his own office.

Pištaljka (“The Whistle”), Serbia
Open Democracy and Advice Centre (ODAC), South Africa
Transparency International Netherlands, Netherlands
Riparte il futuro, Italy
Centre for Free Expression Whistleblowing Initiative, Canada
Transparency International Ireland, Ireland
The Ethicos Group, Australia
Speak Up, Speak Out Ltd., United Kingdom

See WIN letter to Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister including press release from the Government Accountability Project.

The Trudeau government has a real opportunity to put Canadian whistleblower protection back on the map

OTTAWA, June 16, 2017 – Today a Canadian Parliamentary committee released a hard-hitting report calling for a major overhaul of Canada’s inadequate federal whistleblower protection legislation.

The Government Operations Committee recommends a number of changes to provide genuine protection to federal civil servants who blow the whistle on government wrongdoing.

“Finally there is a serious call to reform a law that has done little to protect Canadian federal whistleblowers so far and may in fact have done more harm than good by making civil servants think twice before speaking up.” said Anna Myers, Director of WIN, a network of leading civil society organisations working around the world to protect public interest whistleblowing.

Along with important Canadian witnesses like David Hutton, Senior Fellow at the Ryerson University Centre for Free Expression, the Committee heard from international experts from Ireland, Australia and the USA.

Continue reading

Whistleblowing – Corruption Prevention and the Public Interest

anna-myers-66958854In 2014, WIN Director Anna Myers was invited to give a lecture to the Thailand Anti-Corruption Agency about whistleblowing at the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) near Vienna, Austria. The Academy asked Anna to write an article for the alumni magazine, IACAlumnus,  which she did including some of the questions that participants in the workshop asked – and which remain highly relevant today – and her attempts to answer them. WIN thanks the IACA for permission to reprint the article.

Whistleblowing is a hot topic right now not just for those interested in tackling corruption as a social, political, and economic ill, but it is also fast gaining currency amongst those working to prevent serious human rights abuses, as well as practitioners working to deliver more open government and access to information. Further, the link between whistleblowing and protecting journalists’ sources is also being highlighted, particularly among a new generation of journalists not necessarily based in established media or newspaper organizations, and who conduct serious investigations into corruption.[1]

However, while legal protection for whistleblowers is still a new concept, the act of whistleblowing is not new. Whistleblowing is a human instinct – speaking up to alert Continue reading