Login

Transparency and accountability advocates call for protection of COVID-19-related whistleblowers

Pandemic highlights need for free flow of accurate health information, groups say

Transparency and accountability advocates call for protection of COVID-19-related whistleblowers

Whistleblowers exposing misconduct arising as a result of the COVID-19 crisis deserve stronger protections from governments around the world, said a joint statement signed by an international collection of transparency and free-expression advocacy groups.

Over 40 signatories, including the International Bar Association’s Legal Policy and Research Unit, called for global public authorities and institutions to protect whistleblowers. They then called on the public to do its part by ensuring that public and private institutions alike exercise accountability and respect human rights.

“The COVID-19 pandemic brings into stark relief the importance of accountability and the need for regular and reliable information from our public institutions and our leaders,” said the statement. “The people of every affected country need to know the truth about the spread of the disease both locally and internationally in order to respond effectively and help protect their communities.”

According to the statement, whistleblowers serve the important role of uncovering wrongdoings and mismanagement during these times, especially when many democratic assemblies around the world have already been suspended, and there is consequently an increased risk of abuse or overreach.

In effect, these whistleblowers are not only helping to avoid “major disasters” but are also helping to minimize the negative impact of such misconduct on the general public and on the minorities and marginalized communities who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, said the statement.

The statement emphasizes that the protection of such whistleblowers is particularly critical given that abuses have already been reported across the globe, such as restrictions on the rights to free expression and access to information, breaches in health and safety law and labour law, unfair competition and other illegal market practices and violations of privacy arising from the adoption of digital tracking technologies by governments.

“When decisions are taken in emergency conditions, often away from democratic scrutiny, whistleblowers can play a vital early-warning role,” said the statement. “They are the corrective fail-safe mechanism in any society, especially in an international health crisis when the public’s right to know can have life-or-death implications.”

Related stories

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered on a regular basis, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Award more than tripled on appeal for fired articling student at B.C. firm Acumen Law

Supreme Court saw declining leaves to appeal but more technology use in 2020

BLG’s acquisition of AUM Law will help it expand compliance services to investment management sector

Canadian Judicial Council releases handbooks for self-represented litigants

New Brunswick to require liquor servers and sellers at licensed establishments to undergo training

Bennett Jones lawyers analyze potential effects of Ottawa’s 2021 budget on trade

Most Read Articles

Award more than tripled on appeal for fired articling student at B.C. firm Acumen Law

Disbarred Edmonton lawyer Shawn Beaver has his one-year jail sentence reduced to 90 days

Canada Revenue Agency profiling of Muslim charities may pose a national security threat

Toronto litigator urges ‘changing mindsets’ in legal firms