Update from Poland – Government draft law in limbo, citizen’s draft law in action

09/10/18WIN 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!

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Leading whistleblower protection organisation Pištaljka wins historic victory in Serbian court!

05/10/2018WIN 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.

Letter from Canada: a progress report

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.

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AFRICMIL running exciting whistleblower project in Nigeria

13/09/18WIN is pleased to highlight the work of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) on the Corruption Anonymous (CORA) project in Nigeria.

elby75ngyhsd5qadvpeu_400x400 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.
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SEC proposes changes to its rules: what are the pros and cons of rewarding whistleblowers?

01/08/2018 – WINSEC-logo.png is delighted to publish this GAP blog on the proposed changes to the SEC whistleblower reward program rules. The piece highlights some of the pros and cons of financial rewards or “incentives” to individuals who report wrongdoing in the financial sector. Those who report to the SEC can come from any company listed on the US Stock Exchange, which means whistleblowers approach the SEC from all around the world with information on corporate wrongdoing. This international reach along with the successful and high profile prosecutions the SEC has been able to mount against companies who breach SEC rules, and the high monetary value of some of the rewards paid out to whistleblowers, has sparked the interest of financial regulators in other jurisdictions in the concept of financial incentives as a means to increase their regulatory effectiveness.

Financially rewarding or offering bounties to those who can provide specific regulatory or criminal information is often juxtaposed against the compensation that should be provided to whistleblowers for any losses they suffer when speaking out about a range of wrongdoing. Though rewards and compensation are both financial in nature, they clearly serve different ends. Likewise other tools—also developed in the US system—that specifically empower whistleblowers by actively engaging them in the resolution of the wrongdoing or in holding the wrongdoers to account, as in the US False Claims Act approach to tackling fraud from government or the rules governing how the US Federal Office of Special Counsel reviews investigative findings with whistleblowers, are often overlooked in the “rewarding whistleblowers” debate.

WIN will continue to host discussions and debates on these issues (and more!) to encourage wider and better informed debate on good practices in promoting public interest whistleblowing and protecting whistleblowers around the world.

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