On August 28, a group of international whistleblower experts, including whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC), Whistleblowing International, and the European Center for Whistleblower Rights, submitted a memorandum to government officials in Finland, providing suggestions for strengthening whistleblower protections.
A call for new legislation involving whistleblowers is part of the European Union’s “(EU) 2019 Directive (EU) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law.” The Directive puts forth guidelines for EU Member States to implement whistleblower protection practices and requires that by December of 2021, each EU Member State will “bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions” described in the Directive.
The EU Directive establishes “common minimum standards” for all Member States to follow when creating and updating whistleblower legislation, but also offers that the Member States “could decide to extend the application of national provisions to other areas with a view to ensuring that there is a comprehensive and coherent whistleblower protection framework at national level.”
According to the European Center for Whistleblower Rights, Finland has already made strides in anti-corruption efforts, but still “lacks a designated law to protect whistleblowers and clear channels for whistleblowers to disclose wrongdoing.”
Thus, whistleblower attorneys at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto suggest that Finnish lawmakers enact the below changes for best practices for whistleblowers:
- Expanding whistleblower protections to cover disclosures permitted under international anti-corruption treaties signed by Member States;
- Narrowly interpreting a provision in the Directive that could result in retaliation against whistleblowers (Article 22);
- Enacting whistleblower reward laws to combat financial frauds, money laundering, foreign bribery, ocean pollution tax evasion and other crimes; and
- Adopting language and procedures that have proven effective in protecting whistleblowers when implementing Articles 6-7, 11, 14-16, 19-21, and 23-24 of the Directive.
“Finland has the opportunity to modernize its anti-corruption laws and incentive whistleblowers to risk their careers by reporting violations of law. Whistleblowers are a key part of government transparency and accountability and they must be fully protected,” said Stephen M. Kohn, a partner in the whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto.