Budi Suharto (right in photo) visited me at the National Whistleblowers Center today. Mr. Suharto is the Head of Bilateral Cooperation II Section of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia. We discussed how in both the United States and in Indonesia, recent criminal prosecutions of whistleblowers raise a concern that other employees with information about corruption may be discouraged from coming forward. In the United States, the prosecutions of Bradley Birkenfeld and Thomas Drake, and the detention of Bradley Manning, remain active deterrents against whistleblowing. We discussed my recent submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States. Attachment B to that submission contains citations to studies showing that employee reports are the best way to detect fraud, corruption and other violations of law. In searching for ways to detect and deter corruption, protecting whistleblowers and encouraging them to come forward is a good starting place.
Yesterday, Transparency International (TI) released a practical guide for combating corruption in relief and reconstruction efforts.
“Disasters like the catastrophe in Haiti highlight the absolute necessity of ensuring that the funds and supplies allocated actually reach those in need. Corruption in emergency aid is a matter of life and death. Stopping and preventing corruption should be a strategic priority for the humanitarian community,” said Christiaan Poortman, Global Programmes Director at TI.
Strong whistleblowing mechanisms are recommended as the best way to stop corruption and ensure that humanitarian aid gets where it needs to go. The report states that a “confidential and independent mechanism (whether internal or exernal) helps create an environment intolerant of corruption, in which staff feel safe to blow the whistle without fear of reprisal.” TI recommends that whistleblowing actually be made a staff duty and if an investigation finds corruption, the agency must take action to ensure that staff trust the whistleblowing process to correct their complaints (Pages 19-20).
For entire report please click here.
My counterpart in Indonesia, Emerson Yuntho, has been swept up in a flurry of police activity associated with the Third Conference of State Parties (CoSP) of the United Nation Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). I just met Emerson last month when he visited our offices at the National Whistleblowers Center. You can see our photo of his visit in my blog post about it.
The Third UNCAC Conference was in Doha, Qatar, two weeks ago. Now Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) has released a report called “Weakening of Corruption Eradication Commission In Indonesia.” The report details how Emerson and a colleague, Illian Deta Arta Sari, released information about financial misconduct in the Attorney General’s office. Now they have been summoned to Police Headquarters and declared suspects in an investigation for "character assassination." I think I have a tough day when a big brief is due.
Indonesian police have also declared as suspects two managers of the official Corruption Erradication Commission (KPK), Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah. If you feel moved to action, the fax number of Washington’s Indonesian Embassy is (202) 775 5365.
[Turkey] “Prosecutors looking for ways to contact whistleblower,” Today’s Zaman, November 3, 2009.
Prosecutors conducting a probe into a clandestine group known as Ergenekon are searching for a way to reach a military officer who mailed the original copy of a military plot against the ruling party to an İstanbul prosecutor. The plot is aimed at undermining the power of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the faith-based Gülen movement.
[UK] Lakhani, Nina, “NHS is paying millions to gag whistleblowers,” The Independent, November 1, 2009.
NHS whistleblowers are routinely gagged in order to cover up dangerous and even dishonest practices that could attract bad publicity and damage a hospital’s reputation. Some local NHS bodies are spending millions of taxpayers’ money to pay off and silence whistleblowers with “super gags” to stop them going public with patient safety incidents. Experts warn that patients’ lives are being endangered by the use of intimidatory tactics to force out whistleblowers and deter other professionals from coming forward. Click here to read more.
As Richard Renner wrote in the previous post, Transparency International (TI) just released their “Global Corruption Report 2009: Corruption and the Private Sector (GCR).” In it, more than 75 experts examine a wide range of corruption issues around the world.
In this post, I would like to introduce several whistleblowing issues around the world based on the report.
The report emphasizes that “recognizing the role of whistleblowers” is one of key elements of good corporate governance, mentioning “employees are the single most important group of actors capable of detecting corporate fraud and as such they represent an extraordinarily important pillar in the system of checks and balances that comprise corporate governance.”
Transparency International (TI) today released its 2009 Global Corruption Report: Corruption and the Private Sector (GCR). TI finds that one out of five business executives report that they received a solicitation for a bribe. An equal number report that they lost business due to a competitor paying a bribe.
I like to read the GCR together with the Price Waterhouse study reported here in 2008. It found that the most effective way to uncover corruption is through whistleblowers. The logical conclusion is that we need effective legal protections and rewards for whistleblowers, both here and in other countries.
On September 14, 2009, the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague ordered Florence Hartmann to pay a fine of 7,000 Euros for violating the court’s confidentiality pledge.
Florence Hartmann, a former journalist for the French Daily Le Monde, was a spokeswoman for the ICTY from 2000 to 2006. After she left her position as a spokeswoman for the former chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte in 2006, she wrote a book – Peace and Punishment: The Secret Wars of Politics and International Justice and several articles in Paris Match magazine. In her book and articles, she revealed “the ICTY had decided in secret not to disclose information that could have proved a link between Belgrade and war crimes committed in Bosnia – most notably massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the Bosnian village of Srebrenica in 1995.” During the war crimes case against former President Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian government had submitted the document to the court on the condition of secrecy. Upon Milosevic’s death in March of 2006, the trial ended – without a verdict. The original documents have been not published yet (BBC News, 2009).
Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC), is in Montenegro this week calling for enactment of whistleblower protections as a key component of transparency.
Kohn is traveling to Montenegro under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State. Today, the on-line journal Vijesti is running an article in Croatian about Kohn’s visit to Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital.
According to the Vijesti article, Kohn is saying that efforts to expose corruption in government and in businesses depend on protecting whistleblowers. A translation of the Vijesti article is available in the continuation of this blog entry.