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.
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.
01/08/2018 – WIN 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.
‘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.’
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.
On 18th May, WIN co-chaired a session at RightsCon 2018 in Toronto, Canada. The session, How whistleblowing is changing the world, paired WIN with The Signals Network to explore cross-sector collaboration opportunities between media, civil society, lawyers and whistleblowers and the
potential partnership opportunities between
WIN panellists included Antoine Deltour; Eduard Martin-Borregon from The Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER), Mexico and Tom Devine, Legal Director at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Washington DC. After the conference, Tom was interviewed about the case Of OSHA Federal Investigator and lawyer Darrell Whitman.