Investigative journalism is a “public asset” and a “key weapon in tackling corruption”, said PACE Committee on Culture in a draft resolution adopted unanimously today, on the basis of a report by Gülsün Bilgehan (Turkey, SOC).
The committee encouraged national parliaments to “actively seek synergies with investigative journalists and media in promoting good governance” and to recognise “a ‘right to whistleblowing’ in all cases where information is disclosed in all good faith and is clearly in the public interest, for example where infringements of human rights or of criminal law including active or passive corruption, or facts that reveal a threat to safety, health, or the environment are concerned”. The exercise of such right should be “an objective criterion for exemption of criminal liability”, and “retaliatory measures against or abusive pressure on whistle-blowers” should be forbidden and penalised.
In a draft recommendation also adopted, the committee considered in particular that “the Council of Europe should provide stronger support for improvements in national legislation relating to transparency and access to information as well as to the protection of whistle-blowers” and stressed the need for a Council of Europe led assessment of national practices and legal provisions on the matter.
The draft resolution and draft recommendation will be debated next year in Strasbourg, at the Assembly’s spring plenary session (April 2017).