Considering that freedom of expression and the right to information are among the fundamental commitments of a democracy, whistleblowers, by reporting and disclosing information on threats to public interest, play a crucial role in contemporary societies as agents of transparency and accountability, promoters of rights, therefore strengthening democracy itself.
However, whistleblowers face also serious social, political and legal hindrances that obstruct their public service, thus discouraging the disclosure of harmful activities and reinforcing the opacity of the statu quo.
With “A Change of Direction”, an international group of NGOs and research institutions aims at promoting the establishment of a new integrated framework for research, implementation and public advocacy for protecting whistleblowers in Europe. This project stems from the conviction that support for whistleblowers is essential to encourage public officials and citizens in the workplace to combat public and private corruption, and reflects the growing attention by European Union to fighting corruption in the process of strengthening European institutions.
To translate our concern into a ground-level practical approach, we face four main issues: protection from retaliation, disclosure channels, investigation of disclosures, and negative cultural attitudes toward whistleblowers. In order to engage and change this reality, we will adopt a holistic and thorough approach emcompassing the following working areas.
The conceptual, political and legal framework focuses the various conceptual, normative and institutional elements that form a whole framework, both in the European Union and its members. The proposals regarding a specific norm protecting whistleblowers must come together with proposals on non-specific norms that affect the issue as well as codes of conduct.
The practical tools, policies and practices that should be employed to report corruption and other wrongdoings. Whistleblowers should be provided with the adequate tools and guarantees to regulate their actions and ensure their security. However, protecting whistleblowers also implies their responsibility to perform their actions in accordance with clear guidelines based on a clear and comprehensive set of rights and obligations.
Social and cultural context: whistleblowers face the resistance stemming from traditional group cultures and a hierarchical understanding of social organizations
A Change of Direction promotes the creation of a protection framework to ensure the whole integrity of whistleblowers in the European Union and its member states. This project is the recognition of their role in the fight against corruption and the strengthening of democracy through transparency. The legal and institutional instruments are analyzed to further attain a comprehensive treatment of the issue, as well as the disclosure of unlawful processes and the different social contexts of the Union.
Link to the website.