Lawyers call for whistle-blower protection

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Two lawyers have made a public call for the Parliament to adopt whistleblowing laws to protect those who raise an alarm against corruption and malfeasance in both the public and private sector.

Attorney-at-law Ralph Bowen has argued that a whistle blowing statute is “actually integral to the functioning of any democratic society and democratic governance”.

Bowen, a member of Antiguans & Barbudans for Constitutional Reform & Education (ABCRE), spoke against the backdrop of reports that a bank domiciled in Antigua  was involved in an international bribery scandal and an allegation that a public official was at some point involved.

“I think where you have illegalities occurring, no matter the confidentiality it is important that we allow persons in government and even in the private sector to disseminate that information without any sort of repercussion,” Bowen declared.

Another attorney at law and ABCRE member Beverly George said, “It’s important for people to feel free that when they see something that is not right they can come forward and say that…whatever activities are illegal or unethical…without being fearful of being arrested or worse.”

Attorney and ABCRE member Beverly George (Photo source: jhohadli.wordpress.com)

The idea of codifying whistleblowing has generated much discussion in the past week, but is something which Prime Minister Gaston Browne declared in December 2016 that he does not oppose. At the time however, Browne was speaking about adding a whistle-blowing clause to the Integrity in Public Life Act 2004.

Currently, that Act makes it illegal and severely punishable for anyone to reveal information from the Integrity Commission. Pundits argue that this makes it difficult for commissioners to disclose information that would evidence malfeasance.

More in today’s Daily Observer.

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