INTERNATIONAL TREATY FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS (The international office of the whistleblower)  

Whistleblower Protection Act

INTERNATIONAL TREATY FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS 

(The International Office of the Whistleblower)

Written by Aristeidis Danikas

Liberty of Speech

13/04/2022

Calling for the Creation of an International Office of the Whistleblowers

  1. Introduction

Whistleblowing is a vital tool in combating corruption and promoting transparency within both the public and private sectors. It allows individuals to expose misconduct, fraud, or illegal activities that would otherwise go unnoticed. The significance of whistleblowing cannot be understated, as it serves as a mechanism for accountability and safeguarding the public’s interest. However, despite its crucial role in fighting corruption globally, there are still numerous challenges faced by national regulatory authorities in effectively addressing whistleblowing cases (IBA). To overcome these obstacles and ensure comprehensive protection for whistleblowers, there is a pressing need for the creation of an international treaty for the Office of the Whistleblower, specifically dedicated to regulating those challenges.

  1. The Challenges Faced by Local Regulatory Authorities

 Regulatory authorities often face limitations and infrastructure challenges when handling whistleblowing cases. These challenges can include insufficient resources, limited legal frameworks, inadequate training programs, and cultural barriers that discourage reporting. For instance, Mbiyavanga (2023) highlights how corrupt officials may exert influence over local authorities to hinder investigations into high-profile cases or suppress evidence brought forward by whistleblowers.

Such limitations can impede the effective investigation and prosecution of corruption cases because they undermine the ability to collect evidence and protect witnesses adequately (AlHamimat 2022). Furthermore, without adequate safeguards in place for whistleblowers’ anonymity and security during legal proceedings, potential reprisals from implicated parties can deter individuals from speaking up against corruption.

  1. The Role of an International Regulator for the global Office of the Whistleblower

To tackle these challenges on a global scale, the formation of an international regulator, referred to as the International Office of the Whistleblower, becomes imperative. This entity would focus exclusively on managing cross-border best practices, enforcing minimum standards, introducing policy enhancements and guidelines, and creating a public library of knowledge. Additionally, it would liaise with national offices on critical and urgent whistleblower protection matters. This central organization could work alongside local regulatory authorities to seamlessly coordinate cross-border cases while offering support mechanisms for both whistleblowers and investigative bodies. (Chowdhury 2022).

In the past, there were many calls for international cooperation to combat corruption, (IMF 1998 International Cooperation against Corruption), economic, energy, and food crises. (WEF 2023) An international regulator would serve as a knowledge hub where best practices in whistleblower protection can be shared among countries. It could also facilitate capacity-building programs to enhance the capabilities of local regulatory authorities in handling whistleblowing cases. By promoting cooperation and collaboration among nations, an international regulator would create a unified front against corruption. 

  1. Benefits of Establishing an International Treaty for Whistleblowers via a dedicated Central Office of the Whistleblower

The creation of an international treaty specifically focused on whistleblower protection offers several benefits in the fight against corruption. Firstly, it promotes consistency and standardization across different legal systems, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected regardless of their geographical location (Kholisoh & Suswoto 2022). Such a treaty would further provide a framework for issuing emergency visas to legitimate candidates who face serious concerns about retaliation.

Additionally, proactive monitoring, reporting, and public exposure facilitated by and regulated via an international treaty can contribute to safeguarding the public interest (Mbiyavanga 2023). By encouraging reporting and providing robust protections for whistleblowers, corrupt practices can be exposed promptly, leading to early detection and prevention of significant harm.

This harmonization enables greater confidence for individuals considering blowing the whistle while minimizing jurisdictional challenges faced by regulatory authorities when dealing with cross-border cases. 

Local satellite offices will be established to represent the International Office of the Whistleblower in each country participating in the treaty. These offices will be responsible for handling serious cases, screening whistleblowers, providing initial support, and coordinating with local authorities. In situations where whistleblowers fear for their lives & their families’ lives, or have faced retaliation, these local offices will have the authority to expedite visas for distressed whistleblowers, enabling their removal to a safer country.

The combat against corruption through effective whistleblower protection carries significant economic implications. Reducing corrupt practices allows resources typically diverted to illicit activities to be reallocated to essential projects like infrastructure development and social welfare programs. This reallocation enhances public trust in governance institutions and promotes sustainable economic growth.

A significant motivation for nations to implement the Office of the Whistleblower is the potential to reduce their Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). This reduction can enhance the country’s appeal to global investors, which is instrumental in promoting broader economic progress.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries and territories based on their perceived levels of public sector corruption. It provides insights into the prevalence of corruption worldwide, with scores ranging from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Let’s explore the recent CPI findings:

CPI 2023 Highlights:

  • The global average remains stuck at 43, indicating a persistent corruption problem.
  • Over two-thirds of countries score below 50, signaling serious corruption issues.
  • 23 countries reached their lowest scores ever this year.
  • Weakening justice systems contribute to increased impunity for corruption, allowing it to thrive.
  • Both authoritarian and democratic leaders undermine justice, reducing accountability for public officials.
  • Corrupt acts like bribery and abuse of power infiltrate courts and justice institutions globally.
  • Top-scoring countries also face an impunity problem, often failing to pursue transnational corruption cases1.

  1. Benefits of Establishing an Emergency Visa for Whistleblower in Distress    

One of the main obstacles encountered by whistleblowers is residing in hostile countries where their actions are met with severe reprisals. This includes assassination, threats to their physical safety and well-being, loss of employment or livelihood, and even legal prosecution ( SLAPP). These obstacles make it exceptionally difficult for whistleblowers to come forward and disclose valuable information that can expose wrongdoing.

The establishment of this expedited visa would create a standardized system through which legit whistleblowers under serious threat can seek refuge in countries committed to protecting them from harm. By unifying efforts on an international scale, this treaty would send a clear message that whistleblower protection is not only crucial but also universally recognized as an essential component of justice systems around the world.

  1. The Role of Embassies in Processing Applications

Under the proposed international organization treaty, embassies of participating countries would play a pivotal role in processing applications directly from the Office of the Whistleblower, or in liese with relative organizations who represent them and seeking temporary emergency relocation. These embassies could issue an expedited visa for individuals facing immediate dangers due to their significant disclosure activities.

Embassies would be responsible for assessing and evaluating the legitimacy of each application received based on established criteria outlined within the treaty as well as the recommendation of the local Office of the Whistleblower. This process would ensure that emergency visas are granted to individuals who can demonstrate a genuine risk to their safety and well-being, as well as serve the interests of the cross-border countries they seek asylum from.

By providing emergency visas through participating country embassies, this proposal seeks to create a unified approach toward safeguarding those who expose wrongdoing and corruption. The implementation of this proposal would not only enhance the security and well-being of whistleblowers but also contribute significantly towards promoting accountability and ethical practices in both the public and private sectors.

  1. Conclusion

In summary, whistleblowing against corruption and wrongdoing, serves as a vital tool in combating global corruption. Nevertheless, local regulatory bodies encounter several obstacles that impede the efficient investigation and prosecution of misconduct cases. To comprehensively address these challenges and ensure adequate protection for whistleblowers on an international level, the establishment of an independent global regulatory organization is necessary. Member countries should recognize this organization as the authoritative body for guidance, expertise, policies, and addressing future whistleblowing challenges.

By establishing an international regulator for whistleblower protection as part of this treaty framework, coordination between local authorities becomes more efficient while support mechanisms are put into place to ensure the safety and security of those who report wrongdoing.

The potential impact such a treaty could have on combating corruption is significant. It would promote consistency, standardization, and cooperation among nations while reducing corrupt practices and safeguarding the public interest. Ultimately, the creation of an international treaty for whistleblowers would be a powerful tool in the fight against corruption worldwide.

References 

International Bar Association Legal Policy and Research Unit, “Are whistleblowing laws working? A global study of whistleblower protection litigation”. https://www.ibanet.org/MediaHandler?id=49c9b08d43284797a2f71e0a71d0da55

 Mbiyavanga, S. (2023). Combating corruption through international investment treaty law. Journal of Anti-Corruption Law, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.14426/jacl.v3i1.1257

Al-Hamimat, M. (2022). Criminal protection for witnesses and whistleblowers of corruption crimes in light of the Jordanian Integrity and Anti-Corruption Law No. (13) of 2016 and its amendments. Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan Journal for Legal Studies, 3(3), 253–270. https://doi.org/10.15849/zujjls.221130.13

Chowdhury, A. (2022). The viability and potential of corruption-based counterclaims in treaty-based ISDS cases under ICSID tribunals. Erasmus Law Review, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.5553/elr.000227

IMF (1998). International cooperation against corruption.  https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/1998/03/pdf/klitgaar.pdf

WEF (2023). Cooperation in a Fragmented World https://www.weforum.org/press/2023/01/cooperationinafragmentedworldaddressingpressingcrisestacklingfuturechallenges/

Kholisoh, B. B., & Suswoto. (2022). Extradition by the Indonesian National Police of perpetrators of corruption from Indonesia, based on the legal provisions of the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO-INTERPOL). Kajian Hukum, 7(1), 1– ttps://doi.org/10.37159/kh.v7i1.3

Babita Deokoran (2021). South Africa. https://www.blueprintforfreespeech.net/en/prize/recipients/2021/babitadeokaran

Patrichia Mashale (2022). South Africa. https://www.blueprintforfreespeech.net/en/prize/recipients/2022/patricia-mashale

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