WIN is offering these Legal Briefs to all those interested in making whistleblowing work for Europe. They were developed with the expertise of Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project in Washington DC, a co-founding member of WIN and Anna Myers, Executive Director of WIN.
They are based on 40 years of experience defending whistleblowers through the courts and in the public domain and advising governments around the world on the legislative reform needed to protect those who speak up in the interests of others.
Right now, the EU is going through the process of debating and amending a draft directive to protect whistleblowers across Europe. We want to help the policy makers and legislators to get it right!
Our Legal Briefs focus on the significant problem of mandatory internal reporting which renders the entire draft directive structurally unsound; the need to remove the mandatory penalties for malicious and abusive reporting, a potentially fatal flaw which will substitute worse retaliation with a greater chilling effect than current job-based harassment; the necessity to get right the legal burdens of proof to give whistleblowers a fighting chance to succeed in seeking justice; the importance of protecting those who initially who raise concerns anonymously, and the need to ensure available remedies are adequate to buffer whistleblowers from the damage of a sustained professional and personal campaign to discredit them. There are also some important elements missing in the draft directive such as a duty to prevent harm and the need to train judges on whistleblower laws.
09/10/18 – WIN is pleased to provide an update from the Stefan Batory Foundation on the proposed whistleblowing law in Poland.
A year ago, a coalition of Polish NGOs – including the Stefan Batory Foundation, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Trade Union Forum – began working on a Citizen’s Draft Law on Whistleblowers’ Protection. They wanted to provide a strong model for whistleblowing legislation in Poland that met international best practice and against which any government proposals could be effectively measured. The current version of the Citizen’s Draft Law is available in English here.
The Citizen’s Draft Law proved its value almost immediately when, in late 2017, the Polish NGO coalition were able to present it as antidote to dangerous proposals on “whistleblowing” drafted by the Coordinator of the Special Services. The Special Services proposals were included in the Government’s draft law on transparency in public life. The Stefan Batory Foundation strongly criticised the proposals, as did WIN who sent a letter from international experts urging the Polish Government to reject the whistleblower protection provisions as not fit for purpose.
But work on a Citizen’s Draft Law on Whistleblowers’ Protection continued and, in April 2018, the Stefan Batory foundation and the NGO Coalition launched an independent public consultation. The launch was held at the first of two public meetings and so far the consultation has gathered over 100 comments which will be taken into account whilst the coalition prepares the final version of the Citizen’s Draft Law.
Anyone interested in effective whistleblower protection is encouraged to review the Citizen’s Draft Law on Whistleblowers’ Protection and submit their comments here!
05/10/2018 – WIN is delighted to highlight the success of Pištaljka‘s journalistic and legal teams who won a groundbreaking ruling in favour of a whistleblower in Serbia earlier this week.
The High Court in Belgrade ruled that five institutions, including the Ministry of Health, the prosecutor’s office and the Anti-Corruption Agency, retaliated against Dr. Borko Josifovski who, in 2006, reported that emergency medical teams were not assisting dying patients in order to get kickbacks from private funeral homes.
Dr. Josifovski was represented by Pištaljka’s lawyers, and key evidence to file the lawsuit was obtained by Pištaljka’s journalists. In a press conference with Pištaljka yesterday, Dr. Josifovski said that the verdict in his case should encourage other whistleblowers in Serbian to come forward.
The ruling is a crucial moment for the protection of whistleblowers in Serbia and proof that — owing to Pištaljka — the Whistleblower Protection Law has become fully effective and that Serbia, and especially its courts, lead the way for other European countries.
Pištaljka now expects a full investigation into Josifovski’s claims, especially given that a similar case in a town north of Belgrade is currently being investigated by Pištaljka.
More information on the ruling and on Dr. Josifovski’s case is available in Serbian via the Pištaljka website.
David Hutton of the Centre for Free Expression’s Whistleblowing Initiative (CFEWI) offers an expert insight into the current state of affairs of whistleblowing in Canada. The good news? Civil society is taking action. The bad news? The Canadian government has failed to reform a broken system leaving the country and its people vulnerable to unnecessary damage and harm by failing to protect those who speak up about wrongdoing.
This time last year Canadian whistleblowing advocates were celebrating a breakthrough: the long-delayed review of our deeply-flawed federal whistleblowing system had just been completed by a Parliamentary committee, whose unanimous report recommended sweeping reforms. This event was indeed worth celebrating, since there had been no progress in 11 years. For more than a decade the doors of Parliament were closed to us: we were not even permitted to testify when successive Integrity Commissioners submitted their annual reports to committee. Suddenly these doors opened briefly and we were able to explain to parliamentarians the dire plight of whistleblowers under this system, and arrange for colleagues from the UK, Ireland and the USA to provide their perspectives. We were thrilled with the committee’s report.
Predictably, the government gave the committee’s report the brush-off – none of the recommendations have been adopted. So we still have a non-functioning whistleblowing system for our federal public servants. On the bright side, the committee’s report – is an invaluable body of evidence that demonstrates the problem as well as offering workable solutions. From the experience of other countries, we understand that it often takes public outrage at a disaster – or several of them – to force those in power to protect whistleblowers. And we have such a disaster in Canada, unfolding like a slow-motion train wreck over the past two years. Following the launch of a new payroll system called Phoenix, the government cannot reliably pay its 290,000 unionized employees.
13/09/18 – WIN is pleased to highlight the work of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) on the Corruption Anonymous (CORA) project in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s civil society has long been active in working to promote better governance and accountability mechanisms to reduce waste, harm and corruption at all levels of government and society and increase the well-being of Nigerians. Civil society organisations saw the importance of whistleblowing and protecting whistleblowers as a key element in engaging citizens in strengthening and nurturing Nigerian democracy as far back as 2002.
The work of AFRICMIL and the CORA project is exciting, creative and important. It reinforces the work already done in Nigeria and WIN is delighted to highlight it here.
In December 2016, the Nigerian Federal Government announced a whistleblower policy offering financial incentives for citizens who blow the whistle on wrongdoing that leads to the recovery of looted public funds.
In the year since, as part of its accountability and good governance initiative, AFRICMIL has proactively engaged with whistleblower protection issues. In particular, it launched the CORA project which allows individuals to report corruption anonymously online. The project raises popular awareness of government whistleblowing policy and works towards its effective implementation whilst promoting the value of whistleblowing and advocating for stronger protections.