Categorized | Europe, Human Rights

European Parliament Panel Approves Whistleblower Protections for all EU Countries

NOVANEWS

Journalists to Receive Whistleblower Protections under Updated Directive

BRUSSELS – On Tuesday, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament voted in favor of a proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive, which would create legally binding free speech protections for whistleblowers in all EU member states. Among the compromises within the directive, one of the most notable was the extension of whistleblower protections to journalists –– a progressive move that would surpass whistleblower protections in most developed countries.

Highlights of the Directive include:

  • A comprehensive, continent-wide ban on direct or indirect retaliation against all current or former, public or private workers and volunteers who blow the whistle. as well as those who assist them including Civil Society Organizations and media that report on their evidence
  • Protection against criminal prosecution and corporate lawsuits for damages.
  • Equal rights for national security whistleblowers challenging denial or loss of security clearances;
  • Provision of psychological support to deal with the stress of harassment

Whistleblower advocates are hailing JURI’s decision as a success.

Referring to provisions listed above, Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine said,  “The European Union Whistleblower Directive voted out of committee today would set the global standard for best practice rights protecting freedom of speech where it counts the most—challenging abuses of power that betray the public trust. If approved, this will be a landmark paradigm shift protecting freedom of speech, and give whistleblowers a meaningful voice to make a difference. The new Directive is far stronger than U.S. whistleblower rights.”

However, the Directive is unclear about its application to certain key contexts, such as ‘duty speech,’ when employees report the same whistleblowing information as part of a job assignment or to a supervisor, rather than as formal dissent. This is where the overwhelming majority of whistleblowing information gets communicated, and where the free flow of truth is needed for healthy organizations. But it also is the setting for the overwhelming majority of retaliation. The current Directive in unclear whether protection extends to that context. It must, or the Directive will only cover the tip and miss the iceberg of what’s needed.”

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