By Joe Murphy, JD, CCEP, CCEP-I
I have recently returned from a fascinating trip to Bosnia and Serbia. Among other things, I attended a conference on whistleblowing in Belgrade. There the country’s prime minister spoke and encouraged the efforts to protect whistleblowers. He then did something very rare for leaders to do – he sat in the audience and listened to other speakers – whistleblowers describing their experiences. The country is celebrating its new whistleblower protection law.
In Bosnia, I worked with Bojan Bajic, a trailblazing advocate of compliance and ethics. Bojan had drafted and shepherded through the enactment of a strong whistleblower protection law in Bosnia.
In both countries, it was clear that the path for whistleblowers was a difficult and painful one. But this is true worldwide, including in the US. In these countries, there was also the realization that fighting retaliation against whistleblowers was key for boosting the fight against corruption. They see corruption for what it is – an evil that undermines their daily lives.
I offer these observations in the hope that people will not accept the excuses we still hear on why helplines are supposed to be anathema in “Europe,” and thus why privacy bureaucrats needed to exercise (and expand) their power to restrict helplines. When societies and governments are serious about fighting corruption they take steps to prevent it. Systems that encourage workers to speak up when they see corruption are a core part of that fight. At least some brave people in Bosnia and Serbia want to take action to fight corruption. When people anywhere want to fight corruption, they do not accept excuses; they take action. Cheers to the brave citizens who stand up against corruption and fight for reform.