Home Forums Protecting Witnesses and Whistleblowers: Possibilities for Mauritius and Other Small Island Research Paper – Protecting Witnesses and Whistleblowers

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • N Suneechur
    Keymaster
    Post count: 1

    This forum will attempt to address, amongst others, the types of protection for witnesses, whistleblowers, and other reporting persons would be the most effective for SIDS and challenges for SIDS in encouraging whistleblowing.

    Jheengut
    Moderator
    Post count: 9

    Dear All

    Welcome to this online discussion forum on the research paper: Protecting Witnesses and Whistle-blowers: Possibilities for Mauritius and Other Small Island States, by Hollie Webb.

    Miss Webb, former student from the Washington and Lee University, USA conducted this research in Mauritius in 2016 and same was facilitated by the ICAC. A copy of her CV is annexed to this post.

    The focus of her research was to explore ways to implement Articles 32 and 33 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on the protection of witnesses and whistle-blowers in small island developing States (SIDS). Today, this discussion forum aims at triggering further reflections, sharing and consideration of whistleblowing in SIDS and how can same be made more effective.

    As you are aware corruption is often considered as a “secret crime”. This is where the role of informers and whistle-blowers is critical in terms of denouncing acts of corruption. But then we cannot take for granted that people will blow the whistle because this may imply risks to their jobs, their lives and that of close ones. Thus protecting effectively the informers and whistle blower is a key success factor in the fight against corruption. How can we assure them? What are the possible solutions from the perspective of SIDS? This is what the research paper attempts to examine and propose possible solutions. We invite your views/comments/concerns/possible solutions regarding the issue of protecting informers and whistle blowers.

    I wish you all a very fruitful discussion and look forward to your active participation.
    Thanks

    I. Jheengut
    Director, Corruption Prevention and Education Division
    ICAC Mauritius

    Attachments:
    You must be logged in to view attached files.
    Koonjal
    Participant
    Post count: 2

    “Protecting Witnesses and Whistleblowers: Possibilities for Mauritius and Other Small Island”
    Protection of whistleblowers is a topic which has been the subject of much discussions at all levels, be it domestic, regional or international. Some countries have even enacted legislations to this effect, but to what extent the provisions of such legislations have been implemented?
    In the context of SIDS, I am of the view that the following aspects need to considered with respect to the above topic:
    • Capacity of the agency to provide such protection;
    • The extent of protection that can be provided, taking into consideration the size of certain jurisdictions;
    • Importance of and scope of such legislative provisions;
    • Financial implications;
    • Alternatives

    Armando Joseph
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Hello, this is the Grenada Integrity Commission. It is a pleasure to be a part of this forum, we look forward to fruitful discussion.

    May De Silva
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    All, it is important to note that as small island states we are unable to fund and sustain a Witness Protection Programme. We should seek partners from the EU to assist with setting a Witness Protection Fund for small island states. This could be in the form of an aid programme where the donor country could provide protection to vulnerable witnesses as part of their aid package. They provide all the financial support and protection as they have the resources to do this.

    Nastili
    Moderator
    Post count: 3

    In Mauritius, although the Prevention of Corruption Act 2002 provides for the protection of informers and witnesses, yet citizens are reluctant to blow the whistle fearing negative repercussions.

    Raj Awotarowa
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    Very often in SIDs, in certain region, everybody knows everybody. so it become difficult to whistle blow.
    In the public sector, people fear report, because of reprisals, harassment and very often victimization.
    For whistleblowing, very often w e forget the support of the community, which is very important.
    In Mauritius, very often we have empowerment sessions for the public sector, we propose to have at least one slide on whistleblowing.
    We usually conduct a 13 hour module for new recruits of the Police, we can now
    With the introduction of paperless reporting, we need to assure whistle-blowers online anonymous reporting.
    whistle-blowers should be made to understand that it is important to whistle blow to have investigation and thereafter prosecution and conviction.
    whistleblowing should take on board all the sectors: public sector, private sector, civil society, NGOs, CBOs, trade unions etc..
    We need to strengthen education on whistleblowing, as many people are unaware of this legislation.
    The end result of whistleblowing should be voluntary reporting without any pressure on the person.

    Hossenbux
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    Protection of whistleblowers may also be provided for by specific provisions in different laws, such as in the criminal code, labour laws or laws regulating public servants.It should not be restricted to a specific anti-corruption law or to public servants/officials only. Employees from the private sector should also feel secure when denouncing corruption.

    In line with the above, amendments to our Mauritian criminal code may impose a fine and/or imprisonment for retaliation against a whistleblower that provides information on wrongdoers to an enforcement agency. A labour law, namely the Employment Rights Act, may protect workers against retaliation by employers when they report work-related offences. Whistleblower protection may also be provided for by specific laws, such as, competition laws, accounting laws, environmental protection laws, and company and securities laws.

    Hollie Webb
    Moderator
    Post count: 5

    Dear all,

    Thank you so much for inviting me to be here! I hope that you are all well and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this topic with you. First, I want to start by saying that I am happy to answer any questions about my research, but I would love to hear your insights and experiences on this topic as well.

    As you know, corruption can be difficult to address anywhere in the world. Because it is often a secret crime, as Mr. Jheengut noted, without people willing to “blow the whistle” and then possibly act as a witness in a criminal trial, it can be almost impossible to fight. However, as May De Silva pointed out, for small island states, it can be difficult to fund a witness protection programme. Another challenge that SIDS face is size. Even in SIDS that consist of multiple islands, it is challenging to hide a person in a small area.

    May De Silva
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    In Seychelles the Anti-Corruption Act 2016 section 69 provide protection for whistle blowers but again some of the informers are reluctant to come forward because they are easily identified, even if they are cross examined behind a screen or via video link. Developed countries with strong Human Rights should be able to provide the sanctuary for whistle blowers. They have the capacity, knowledge and experience of handling such matters.

    Hossenbux
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    I would also suggest that to encourage whistleblowing, a reward system, including extrinsic rewards, could be included as part of the whistleblower mechanism. This is already being carried out in many countries. A reward system might encourage the population to come forward for denouncing wrongdoers.

    Moreover, the media might also be addressed by whistleblowers to disclose wrongdoings publically. A functioning system of free and independent media is key to facilitating public disclosure, when appropriate.

    Amrish Bucktowarsing
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    While we understand the importance and necessity of witness and whistleblower protection in our respective legislations, we should also be alive to the possibility of individuals abusing the system and the protection guaranteed by the laws to slander other people. In most cases, cases pending before the court take years. During all this time, if the case rests essentially on the testimony of a malafide witness/whistleblower, the damages to the individual, especially in the context of small communities in SIDS, can be consequential. Any witness protection and whistleblower legislation in SIDS must take into account and make provisions for such situations.

    Armando Joseph
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Grenada has a young Commission, presently whistle blowing is not part of our Integrity in Public Life Act.
    However the Act is presently undergoing review and it is our intention to include as part of the legislation
    “Protection for witnesses and whistle blowers”.
    We also have another legislation the Prevention of Corruption Act, and in that Act there is a section which deals with
    “Protection Disclosure made by Public Officers”

    I concur with the comments shared by participant Koonjal, especially the statement – “The extent of protection that can be provided, taking into consideration the size of certain jurisdictions”;- we are of the view that it may be prudent to have the support of other anti-corruption entities in training and capacity building.

    May De Silva
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    I don’t believe that it’s about the reward. We can offer millions but if we cannot offer protection as well this is a problem because we are hitting the perpetrators pockets and they will have the means to harm the witnesses. It’s about providing a sanctuary, safety, security for witnesses. In Seychelles our population is 95,000 and everybody knows everybody so it is hard to leave it in the hands of local enforcement who could be easily bribed to provide information on witness location. UN, EU and possibly Transparency Initiative could come up with a programme to assist small island states. We are not talking about thousands of witnesses after all. Probably a small group of vulnerable witnesses.

    Jheengut
    Moderator
    Post count: 9

    Dear All
    Thank you for sharing your initial thoughts. Another key issue that we probably need to reflect on is the need for ‘confidentiality’. If we can assure citizens of confidentiality of information shared by the informers/whistle-blowers, this can be a positive step. Leakage of information may result in various type of risk to the informer/whistle-blower.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 22 total)

The forum ‘Protecting Witnesses and Whistleblowers: Possibilities for Mauritius and Other Small Island’ is closed to new topics and replies.