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ARTICLE 19 calls for improvement of law on protection of whistleblowers

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - London 01.04.11 - Today, ARTICLE 19 releases its analysis of the Draft Law Relating to the Protection of Whistleblowers of Rwanda. ARTICLE 19 commends the initiative of the Rwandan legislators to develop a dedicated law on this subject. At the same time, the analysis highlights the weaknesses of the Draft Law and calls for its revision in the light of international standards.

"ARTICLE 19 welcomes this important initiative, especially as only a small number of countries have to date enacted comprehensive legislation on whistleblowers," says Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19's Executive Director. "Since some of the most advanced whistleblower laws can be found in the African continent, Rwanda has the opportunity to draw on local experiences while being a front-runner in global terms."

ARTICLE 19 has previously recommended the Rwandan government elaborate a freestanding law on protection of whistleblowers since only a limited form of protection was previously proposed in the draft Law on Access to Information. ARTICLE 19 finds a number of positive aspects in the Draft Law. In particular, it will apply to all institutions, whether private or public, and sets out a simple procedure for employees in the public sector to follow when they wish to make a disclosure. The draft law offers a strong guarantee of confidentiality to whistleblowers - in some respects, we argue, even too strong.

At the same time, the proposal suffers from a number of weaknesses. These include the creation of a series of criminal offences which could see persons making 'bad faith disclosures' jailed for extensive periods - a prospect which will deter many employees from coming forward for no benefit of their own. The protections offered to whistleblowers against retribution by their bosses are not wholly convincing, and the range of subjects on which a disclosure may be made is limited. The analysis therefore provides practical guidance on how these issues may be resolved, citing from existing legislation which represents good practice.

ARTICLE 19 hopes that the recommendations shall be incorporated into the final version of the Law and stands ready to assist the Government in finalizing the text of the Law and in its implementation in practice.

To read ARTICLE 19's memorandum, click here
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