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PACE demands strong laws to protect whistleblowers

Council of Europe member States should pass powerful laws to protect whistleblowers, drawing inspiration from a forthcoming EU Directive in this area, the Assembly has said.

In a resolution based on a report by Sylvain Waserman (France, ALDE), the Assembly said whistleblowers were essential to an open and transparent democracy. Sounding the alarm should be “the normal reflex” of any responsible citizen who came across serious threats to the public, it added.

“Without whistleblowers, it would be impossible to resolve many of the challenges to our democracies, including of course the fight against grand corruption and money laundering, as well as … the mass fraudulent use of personal data, activities causing serious environmental harm or threats to public health,” the parliamentarians pointed out.

The proposed EU Directive gives a broad definition of those to be protected, lays down clear reporting procedures and obligations for employers, and bans retaliation against whistleblowers. It offers them criminal and civil immunity for acts undertaken to acquire the reported information, effective legal remedies, and financial penalties against those who try to prevent whistleblowing or disclose a whistleblower’s identity.

PACE also proposed the setting up of an independent authority in each country to assist whistleblowers, and the creation of a European-wide network for them.