TI: Laws to Protect Whistleblowers Needed Worldwide
Whistleblowing is one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent corruption and other malpractice, and people who dare to speak up need to be properly protected, Transparency International (TI) said, marking the June 23 — World Whistleblowers Day.
“World Whistleblowers Day is an occasion for us to celebrate the courageous individuals who come forward to report corruption, and to share some of the ways we’re helping them achieve justice,” the global anti-graft civil society organization said in a statement.
It added that the “vital importance of whistleblowers for our societies is regularly illustrated by the scandals they uncover – and the lasting change they help bring.”
TI emphasized that, in collaboration with its chapters, it operates more than 100 Advocacy and Legal Advice Centers (ALAC) in 62 countries throughout the world to help ensure that people who disclose corruption and misconduct, including whistleblowers, are protected and not persecuted.
Graft cases during the global COVID-19 pandemic only added to the numbers of corruption cases reported throughout the world.
According to TI, more than 1,800 people called the organization's ALACs in the first six months of the pandemic - in 2020 - to denounce corruption and seek assistance for COVID-19-related issues.
“Cases reported to our ALACs show how corruption undermines health care systems and reduces people’s access to treatment and personal protective equipment, while unscrupulous networks profit from government contracts and unlawful sales of medical supplies,” read the statement.
The organization underlined that “there is no doubt that corruption costs lives and threatens livelihoods in a year like 2021,” but that by reporting corruption — blowing the whistle — “people who witness wrongdoing can help protect lives, public finances and the planet.”
However, TI warned that people who speak up are frequently met with retaliation.
“Without strong legal protection and support to safely speak up, whistleblowers and their families can experience personal, professional or legal attacks, harming their mental and even physical well-being,” TI said and stressed that no one should suffer that way.
The international community is increasingly acknowledging whistleblowers' critical role in fostering fair and equitable societies, but in many places, immediate action to protect them is still required, according to TI.
Countries around the world should therefore urgently adopt national whistleblowing laws that provide strong protection for anyone speaking up in the public interest.
“The resulting protection should meet the highest possible standards – for example, by ensuring gender-sensitive reporting mechanisms and Transparency International’s recommendations for effective whistleblower protection legislation – and cover breaches of national law,” according to the statement.
Until the laws to protect whistleblowers are adopted, TI said its ALAC centers will help, as “no one needs to report corruption alone.”
“We’ll act to ensure people reporting wrongdoing are kept safe and that their stories help bring justice and we’ll also keep on pushing for legal protection, so that whistleblowers can safely expose and help prevent corruption, ultimately building integrity across our societies,” TI concluded.