Draft Whistleblowers Law Still Short on Specifics, NGO Says

The Anti-Corruption Unit said it was another step closer to finalizing drafts of its long-awaited laws to protect witnesses and whistleblowers who report corruption, according to a statement, despite warnings that the proposals remained short on specifics.

Roundtable discussions with officials and NGOs to collect input were held on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a statement posted to the Anti-Corruption Unit’s (ACU) Facebook page on Friday.

Protections against retaliation in the workplace and whistleblowers’ confidentiality—as well as immunity from administrative, civil and criminal liabilities—were expected to be included in the draft law, said Francesco Checchi, anti-corruption adviser at the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Southeast Asia and the Pacific office, in an email on Sunday.

The draft whistleblower law “establishes a good framework for protection and for handling complaints of corruption in a sensitive manner, ensuring for instance, the presence of bodies in the various state agencies where the whistleblowers can report corruption or other malfeasance,” said Mr. Checchi, who participated in the discussions last week and said they hoped the draft legislation would be completed early next year.

But another participating organization, Transparency International Cambodia, said aspects of the law’s proposed reporting mechanism remained vague.

“While the current draft aims to create an internal reporting system through a ‘competent body’ at state and non-state institutions, it remains unclear what the actual structure would be and what kind of power this body would enjoy in practice,” said Preap Kol, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, in an email on Sunday.

The anti-corruption NGO has advocated for an external structure for reporting alleged corruption that could “generate trust in the whole system,” Mr. Kol said.

“For without trust and confidence, nothing will actually improve,” he said.

Mr. Checchi said that the UNODC proposed that the draft law should ensure “that even when the alleged malfeasance is not proved the whistleblower is protected.”

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