Whistleblowers: denouncing corruption
December 17, 2021 is the deadline for the countries of the European Union to make effective Directive 2019/1937, of October 23, adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, on allegations of corruption or whistleblowers. We explain the figure of the whistleblower and how this new law affects us.
A whistleblower, an alerter, a person who works for a public body or a company, and who publicly denounces any irregularity, usually by a government or a corporation, as long as it is of public interest. So we could define a whistleblower.
It is a concept that is not new, but that has had some notoriety in the last two decades due to the numerous cases that have come to light. Especially thanks to WikiLeaks, an international non-profit, non-censurable organization founded by Julian Assange in October 2006 in Iceland, which publishes secret documents anonymously, while protecting sources of information.
Subjects can be of corruption, of violation of some law, violation of human rights, and so on, but in general they are disclosures of information or complaints that have an ethical component. That is, the complainant considers that providing the information a personal duty and a matter of integrity towards society.
Manning, Snowden, and Falciani
There are cases like Bradley Manning’s, now Chelsea Manning, a former soldier and intelligence analyst in the US Army that delivered thousands of classified military documents and diplomatic cables exposing many of the atrocities committed by the US in wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is also the case of Edward Snowden, who unveiled much of the industrial and citizen espionage, illegal both in the United States and in other countries, performed mostly on European Union countries, by the US government.
Equally, out of the WikiLeaks environment, there is the famous case of Hervé Falciani, known as the Falciani list, where this Franco-Italian systems engineer delivered a list of more than 130,000 tax evaders with bank accounts in Switzerland, while working at HSBC Private Bank.
The figure of the whistleblower is recognized and protected by law both internationally and nationally in many countries. At least in theory, because in practice we have seen that when it comes to certain interests of governments or the establishment, many times, these protections do not exist or are ignored under the pretext that they constitute espionage, treason, or disclosure of information that endangers other people or that goes against the national interest. And this is how many often end up in jail or exiled, accused and convicted of various charges of dubious legality, but they all curiously have in common having exposed government corruption, illegal government activity, or state terrorism.
However, and in compliance with the European Directive concerning the protection of whistleblowers, Spain, and the rest of the member countries, must compulsorily incorporate these new rules in their legislation before December 17 this year.
After the public consultation made last January, several bills have been presented by different political parties which, despite having margin of manoeuvre, must introduce a series of measures approved by the European Parliament, aimed at guaranteeing equal protection for whistleblowers, whatever the EU Member State to which they belong.
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