Today marks World Whistleblower Day, a day to celebrate whistleblowers around the globe. Whistleblowers put their jobs, reputation, and sometimes even lives at stake to expose the truth for the greater good. This day serves to commemorate their achievements while also raising awareness of their integral part in society.
World Whistleblower Day is also a day to advocate for improved whistleblower legislation.
“In 2020, there can be no excuse for leaving whistleblowers unprotected,” Transparency International (TI) said. Specifically, TI highlights four areas where whistleblower disclosures have been particularly impactful: individuals who blow the whistle on environmental crimes are key in our fight to protect our planet. There have already been several whistleblowers related to practices during COVID-19; similarly, whistleblowers have been essential in uncovering fraud and corruption in regards to the use of public funds. Transparency International’s article also urges that when employees feel safe in reporting wrongdoing to their employer, “companies can avoid costly fines and enormous damage to their brands.”
Transparency International Slovenia also advocates for whistleblower protections today, issuing a press release (English reporting here) underscoring the importance of whistleblowers in uncovering fraud.
Whistleblowing International Network (WIN), a Scotland-based charity, is commemorating the day with the launch of an online tool that tracks whistleblowing legislation in the EU. The EU Whistleblowing Meter tracks the EU’s progress in adhering to the December 2019 “EU Directive on Whistleblowing.” Each EU member has “until the 17th of December 2021 to transpose its provisions into their national legal and institutional systems.” So far, only seven of the twenty-seven countries have taken action, according to the meter. “Whistleblower protection is only successful when civil society is fully engaged, keeping authorities accountable for their actions,” said Anna Myers, the Executive Director of WIN. She hopes that the meter will encourage “governments to get this right, especially now, as the crisis of COVID-19 reinforces the critical importance of information flowing freely to help us keep ourselves and our communities safe and prepare for a different future.”
The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) released a statement urging the Nigerian government to pass a whistleblower protection law. Although the government passed a whistleblower policy in December of 2016, the legislation did not include provisions for whistleblower protection. AFRICMIL wants to see Nigerian legislation rise to par with other African countries like Uganda, South Africa, and Ghana, where formal whistleblower protection laws are already in place. The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the need for transparency: “Nigerians need to know the truth about the spread of the disease to respond effectively and help protect their communities,” said Chido Onumah, Coordinator of AFRICMIL. “We encourage all citizens and workers to participate in ensuring our governments, corporate institutions, both public and private, remain accountable during this crisis and beyond,” he continued.
Advice to Employers on World Whistleblower Day by Protect, a UK-based whistleblowing charity