Why is whistleblower protection a trending issue?


academic writers in Nigeria

The pivotal role of accountability and transparency in building and maintaining public trust in organizations is indisputable. How the Chinese government and World Health Organization (WHO) undermined public health at the initial and peak stage of COVID-19 pandemic, and consequential global spread of the deadly virus, buttress this assertion. Good corporate governance therefore lends credence, in most cases, to the effectiveness of whistleblowing activities and the level of protection offered in legal systems (Samantha., 2020; Nath et al., 2019; Alam et al., 2019).

According to the United States Department of Labour, a whistleblower is an individual who—without authorization—divulges classified information about an organization. The disclosed private data is usually related to fraud, corruption, mismanagement etc. Whistleblowers generally attribute their actions to selfless concern and commitment to public interest. The term “whistleblower” was first used to refer to public office holders who reported corruption, waste of resources and mismanagement in the government. Whistleblowing now includes activities of employees in public/private establishments which alert a larger group of past or present setbacks to their interests as a result of unethical conducts. On the other hand, whistleblower protection refers to the international framework which offers legal cover from disciplinary or discriminatory actions against people who report workplace wrongdoings to competent authorities in good faith. Whistleblowing is an act of good faith conducted on reasonable grounds. It is usually buoyed by commitment to legal and moral standards (Noam & Brian., 2020; Alam et al., 2019).


Why is whistleblower protection a trending issue?

Whistleblower protection is the bedrock of transparency reforms in corporate governance but most countries are yet to enact and strictly enforce legislations for this purpose (Waheduzzaman., 2019). For example, the coronavirus pandemic which originated from Wuhan, China could have been averted if the Chinese government and WHO responded swiftly to claims by Li Wenliang, the whistleblowing doctor who first warned colleagues of the fast-spreading disease. Unfortunately, due to the government’s strong internal anti-corruption framework which suppresses freedom of speech, Wenliang was arrested, detained and charged for disrupting public order by spreading false rumours. He was later exonerated from the charges but his acquittal was a result of public outcry. The doctor who first reported existence of COVID-19 to the international community in December 2019 eventually contacted the disease in late January 2020 and died the following month (Helen., 2020; McDald et al., 2019).

However, his courage and retaliatory action from the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) highlight lack of commitment to whistleblowing protect even in developed nations, inclusive of the United Kingdom, Canada, France and USA, where nurses and doctors were reportedly warned, disciplined and even fired for reporting workplace concerns about coronavirus precautions (Mintz., 2015). This highlights the need for an institutional, normative and judicial framework at the global level where governments and corporate organizations are most likely to choose profit maximization (including bribery and money laundering) to the detriment of the law—a circumstance which calls for collaborative efforts among civil society groups, media, international organizations, governments, private sector, anti-corruption and labour protection agencies. Few examples are Snowden, Panama Papers, Cambridge Analytica, Dieselgate and LuxLeaks (Moore et al., 2017; House., 2014).