Speaking Up Against Corruption – Why Laws Must Protect Whistleblowers

By Korir Isaac / Published June 23, 2021 | 10:05 am




KEY POINTS

No one needs to report corruption alone. Organizations such as Transparency International have acted to ensure people reporting wrongdoing are kept safe and that their stories help bring justice. They are also consistently pushing for legal protection, so that whistleblowers can safely expose and help prevent corruption, ultimately building integrity across every society.


whistleblowers

It takes more than bravery to expose a corrupt system, particularly when it involves the powers that be. If anything, history has told us that whistleblowers’ efforts quickly get stifled and covered up leaving no reactions or interventions beyond mere grunts.

The sad truth is that whistleblowing is done for all the right reasons. It is paramount to reducing illegality and encouraging transparency in any organization since it instills fear in the people committing the wrong and the consequences that come with it.

Moreover, it exposes economic fraud that destroys shareholders’ value, threatens enterprises’ development, endangers employment opportunities, and undermines good governance.

Every day, people witness countless acts of wrongdoing, and in a year like 2021, even as the world celebrates Whistleblower Day, corruption still threatens the livelihoods of many Kenyans and other citizens across the globe.

ALSO READ: 87% Of Kenyans Are Potential Whistleblowers But Scared

Sadly, many people lack the courage to speak up, and when they do, they often face retaliation. The lack of strong legal protection and support for these kinds of individuals leaves them and their families experiencing personal, professional, or legal attacks. This harms their mental and even physical well-being.

No one should suffer this way. And according to Transparency International, the international community increasingly recognizes whistleblowers’ vital role in helping build fair, equitable societies but, in many places, urgent action to protect them is still needed.

Regions such as the European Union (EU) passed the landmark Whistleblower Protection Directive two years ago to ensure that its residents can expose abuses safely, yet, many countries are still struggling to implement the same.

Kenya is no different. The Bribery Index of 2019 reported that 87 percent of Kenyans see corruption incidents but keep silent about it with some vowing never to tell even when a reward is announced for the same.

Compared to a similar survey conducted in 2017 where 94 percent of the respondents noted that they never reported corruption cases to authorities, the 2019 survey points to a slight improvement.

With Kenya having no stellar laws protecting individuals that expose the system, it is high time it emulates the EU policy framework on the same basis for swiftly drafting laws that will protect whistleblowers.

Of course, when it comes to reporting corruption, the opinions across countries are divided. This is why many potential whistleblowers think they will suffer retaliation if they report corruption.

As such, every country must 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.

Meanwhile, if you witness a corrupt act that needs to be reported, remember that you are not alone. No one needs to report corruption alone. Organizations such as Transparency International have acted to ensure people reporting wrongdoing are kept safe and that their stories help bring justice. They are also consistently pushing for legal protection, so that whistleblowers can safely expose and help prevent corruption, ultimately building integrity across every society.





About Korir Isaac

A creative, tenacious, and passionate journalist with impeccable ethics and a nose for anticipated and spontaneous news. He may not say it, but he sure can make one hell of a story.

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