Awareness campaign needed on whistleblowers’ protection to fight graft

DHAKA, Feb 6, 2017 (BSS) - A well orchestrated campaign is necessary to make people aware of Whistleblowers' Protection Act-2011 that promises to protect legal rights of information providers by concealing their identities which can play a vital role in containing corruption.

The law empowers a person to disclose information on ministries, divisions, departments or any other government offices, and all kinds of non-government organisations to the authorities concerned.

As per the law, also known as Public-Interest Information Disclosure Act (Provide Protection), 2011, no criminal, civil or departmental proceedings can be initiated against a person for disclosing public-interest related information to the authorities, and his or her identity will not be disclosed without his or her consent.

The whistleblower cannot even be made a witness and produced before any court in connection with the criminal and civil cases to be filed following the information disclosed. The information cannot be produced before court as evidence to keep the person's identity secret, according to the provisions.

Though around five years and eight months have elapsed after enactment of the law, a very few people including government officials and even the lawyers know about the act as there is almost no campaign to let people know about it.

"An effective awareness campaign is needed involving the media particularly the broadcast media to make people aware of the law as the government and non-government employees can provide graft and irregularity related information of their respective offices to the concerned authorities under the act," ACC panel lawyer Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan told BSS today.

"The ACC should take a well-coordinated effort such as arranging seminar, symposium, meeting as well as making short drama to let people know about the law," he also said, adding that many lawyers even do not know about the law.

"Whistleblowers' protection act is being used as a very effective tool to fight corruption in many countries," Advocate Oliur Rahman Nayon told BSS.

"The act will protect graft information providers of different directorates, departments and ministries and private organizations. This law helps to combat institutional corruption, especially big grafts," said he.

Both the experts hoped that the law would help the graft watchdog to act on the basis of specific information instead of assumed ones and the inflow of accurate information about graft to the commission will be increased manifold.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)