18 Jan 2012

Stronger Whistleblower Protection Needed in Central America

An article by Eleanor Kennedy published on Transparency International’s blog highlights how the lack of efforts to protect whistleblowers, associated with cultural and social elements, remains an important obstacle to fighting corruption in Central America.

The author mentions that the social and political context in many countries in the region creates significant disincentives to potential whistleblowers, especially due to the prevalence of violence and organized crime, which create real threats to the lives of individuals willing to reveal corruption and wrongdoing. Cases of whistleblowers who are threatened and intimidated by criminals are not uncommon.

This issue was addressed at the Central American and Dominican Republican Forum for Transparency, where many civil society representatives pointed out that commitments to protect whistleblowers deriving from the Inter-American Convention against Corruption were not being satisfactorily met by many governments in the region. 

Participants at the event produced a series of recommendations, including concerns about effectively protecting the identity of whistleblowers, creating legislation applicable both to the public and the private sectors and extending protection to witnesses and victims as well, among other things. The need to associate such measures to efforts to strengthen a culture of whistleblowing and the establishment of adequate structures for whistleblower protection was also stressed at the event.

Another article published on the blog, by Anja Osterhaus, calls attention to the fact that lack of adequate whistleblower protection still remains a weakness in many developed countries as well. In a recent case in Germany, a nurse uncovered mistreatment of elderly patients and was later fired by her employer. When she later tried to sue the company, she realized that the entire German legal system did not have any provision to protect her from losing her job. Weak mechanisms to enforce protection of whistleblowers are also the case in other European countries.

However, a recent positive development was the commitment by G20 countries to implement more comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation following a compendium of best practices and guidelines drafted by the OECD. The concern that remain is whether this commitment will be fulfilled and stronger measures to protect whistleblowers will be effectively implemented by the countries.

Read the articles “Blowing the whistle in Central America: not as easy as it sounds” and “German nurse shows need for G20 check-up” on blog.transparency.org. The picture featured above is from cpsu.org.au.