A Loud Whistle: Whistleblowers and Journalists against Corruption

Grand Hall of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 5th – 6th June 2018

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WIN Director, Anna Myers 
A Loud Whistle, 5th June 2018
Photo credit: Zoran Raš for Pištaljka

WIN Director, Anna Myers and Tom Devine, Legal Director of GAP were among key speakers attending the international conference hosted by WIN member organisation Pištaljka last month. Focusing on collaborative practice between journalists and whistleblowers, the conference brought together international experts, politicians and members of the Serbia judiciary to discuss the contributions that whistleblowers in the field of anti-corruption and how various actors including journalists and prosecutors can assist in protecting and assisting those who are making disclosures.

The conference also provided an insight into the exceptional work undertaken in Serbia by Pištaljka in the eight years since their founding in 2010 as an innovative journalism platform for the protection of whistleblowers. Drawing on their founders’ own experiences of facing retaliation and persecution as journalists reporting censorship and conflict of interest, Pištaljka has published more than 600 fully documented investigative articles that have frequently played a part in launching official investigations into corruption.
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Irish government should scrap trade secrets amendment that could criminalise whistleblowing

 

‘Ireland had the strongest whistleblower law in the EU and had inspired reform with its legislation around the world. It looks like the government has broken something that didn’t need to be fixed. Irish whistleblowers, business and the Irish public will be the real losers here.’

Anna Myers
Whistleblowing International Network (WIN)

04/07/2018 WIN Director Anna Myers has joined several expert organisations, legal advisors and practitioners in signing a letter from Transparency International Ireland urging the Irish Government to amend the EU Protection of Trade Secrets Regulation (SI 188) on the basis of its creation of a new test for whistleblowers. Unlike the existing Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (PDA), SI 188 requires whistleblowers to demonstrate that their disclosure was motivated by a general public interest concern even if the disclosure is later deemed to be true, related to a criminal offence, or they reported it to their employer or the appropriate authorities.

Whilst the EU Trade Secrets Directive (passed in July 2016) is supposed to provide strong safeguards for intellectual property holders, there is no requirement in the Directive for any EU Member State to create an additional test for whistleblowers. Under the terms of the Irish proposals, whistleblowers reporting offences to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement or to law enforcement will not only be required to show they believed a crime was or about to be committed but will also have to prove they were motivated to protect the general public interest in reporting the crime.

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LuxLeaks Trial – Court of Appeal confirms acquittal of Antoine Deltour

15/05/2018 – The Luxembourg Court of Appeals has today recognised Antoine Deltour’s status as a whistleblower as defined by European Court of Human Rights. This decision has resulted in a full acquittal of all charges against Antoine relating to the copying and use of the LuxLeaks documents.

The Court of Appeal judgement recorded the copying of internal documents as a legal breach but, ultimately, withheld the suspended prison sentence and fine imposed at trial in 2016. This victory comes after the Court of Cassation’s rejection in January 2018 of Antoine’s original conviction.

Following the verdict, WIN tweeted:

Antoine’s case exposes many of the challenges facing whistleblowers and those involved in protecting whistleblowers, particularly in regards to the criminal sentence originally passed at trial. WIN remains committed to strengthening civil society organisations that defend the rights of whistleblowers and address a range of threats to public interest.

WIN congratulates Antoine, his family, his legal team led by William Bourdon and all those who saw the importance of the substance of his whistleblowing and the right for him to be protected for doing so.

Click here for the full press statement from Antoine Deltour’s support committee.

WIN Letter to Polish Government

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

Dear Sirs,

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

Sapin II A first look at how the French are doing whistleblower protection

Image result for image of French courts

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.

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INTRODUCTION

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”.

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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

Global pressure mounting on next UN Secretary General to heed and protect UN whistleblowers

WIN members join groups from around the world to get answers from the next head of the world’s most powerful international body. Protecting whistleblowers saves lives.

[30 September 2016]  For the first time in the history of the United Nations, candidates for the post of Secretary General have been asked for their views on whistleblower protection.  This is the first opportunity for the candidates to say what they think and their answers will matter in determining whether the United Nations as an organisation is able to respond effectively to new challenges to its mandate and purpose.

Implementing effective whistleblowing arrangements is obviously about good governance but it must be acknowledged that the UN is not like any other institution or body in the world.  When UN staff report concerns they come across in the course of their work, the impact of what they are reporting often affects the most vulnerable people and communities in the world.  How the UN handles whistleblowing within its own systems is felt way beyond the organisation itself. Continue reading

WIN Statement on LuxLeaks trial verdict

Washington DC, London, Dublin, 29 June 2016

The Whistleblowing International Network (WIN), a coalition of organisations supporting whistleblowers worldwide, has expressed its dismay at the conviction of the ‘LuxLeaks’ whistleblowers Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet. The Luxembourg’s court’s verdict was Continue reading