Swiss violation of whistleblowing protection: AMEN

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression filed a report on 8 September 2015 titled Report on protection of sources and whistleblowers

I put the PDF report on my server as the UN's document has a temporary server generated URL. Feel free to search for it directly at the UN.

The report confirms what I've been explaining: everyone can be a whistleblower, whistleblowers should be protected, and retaliation held accountable.

For reference, Switzerland is party to the VCLT and to the CAC which makes for Switzerland's obligation to execute whistleblower protection before and beyond any local laws, jurisprudence and praxis. Bolds are to me obvious and structural violations by the Swiss.

In a nutshell the UN rapporteur finds:

Ensure national legal frameworks provide for the right of access to information in accordance with international standards: National legal frameworks establishing the right to access information held by public bodies should be aligned with international human rights norms. Exceptions to disclosure should be narrowly defined and clearly provided by law and be necessary and proportionate to achieve one or more of the above mentioned legitimate objectives.

Adopt or revise and implement national laws protecting the confidentiality of sources: Laws guaranteeing confidentiality must reach beyond professional journalists, including those who may be performing a vital role in providing wide access to information of public interest such as bloggers, “citizen journalists,” members of non-governmental organizations, authors, and academics, all of whom may conduct research and disclose information in the public interest. Protection should be based on function, not a formal title.

Adopt or revise and implement national legal frameworks protecting whistleblowers: State laws should protect any person who discloses information that he or she reasonably believes, at the time of disclosure, to be true and to constitute a threat or harm to a specified public interest, such as a violation of domestic or international law, abuse of authority, waste, fraud, or harm to the environment, public health or public safety.

Internal institutional and external oversight mechanisms should provide effective and protective channels for whistleblowers to motivate remedial action: In the absence of channels that provide protection and effective remediation, or that fail to do so in a timely manner, public disclosures should be permitted. Disclosure of human rights or humanitarian law violations should never the basis of penalties of any kind.

Protections against retaliation should apply in all public institutions, including those connected to national security: Because prosecutions generally deter whistleblowing, penalties should take into account the intent of the whistleblower to disclose information of public interest and meet international standards of legality, due process, and proportionality.

Establish personal liability for those who retaliate against sources and whistleblowers: Acts of reprisals and other attacks against whistleblowers and the disclosure of confidential sources must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible for these acts held accountable. When these attacks are condoned or perpetrated by authorities in leadership positions they consolidate a culture of silence, secrecy, and fear within institutions and beyond, deterring future disclosures. Leaders at all levels in institutions should promote whistleblowing and be seen to support whistleblowers, and particular attention should be paid to the ways in which authorities in leadership positions encourage retaliation, tacitly or expressly, against whistleblowers.

Actively promote respect for the right of access to information: Law enforcement and justice officials must be trained to ensure the adequate implementation of standards establishing protection of the right to access information and the consequent protections of confidentiality of sources and whistleblowers. Authorities in leadership positions should publicly recognize the contribution of sources and whistleblowers sharing information of public relevance and condemn attacks against them.

I think with this post I rest my case on whistleblowing already covered in my earlier post on who is a whistleblower and whistleblower persecution in Switzerland

Tags: #Rights #Whistleblower

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