Civil society groups around the globe have called on public institutions to protect whistleblowers during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
A coalition of more than 50 NGOs, unions and eminent signatories, including professors, together representing more than 25 countries have issued a statement calling on government and the private sector to protect whistleblowers:
Our organizations call on all public authorities and corporate institutions to protect those who expose harms, abuses and serious wrongdoing during the COVID-19 crisis, and beyond.
‘This pandemic began in its earliest days with whistleblowers who spoke up to warn us what was coming,’ the Executive Director of Blueprint for Free Speech Dr Suelette Dreyfus said.
‘Whistleblowers are early warning systems, especially for public health risks and frontline workers in unsafe conditions,’ she said. ‘People need to know what is going on in this crisis.’
‘We owe them protection, because they take great risks in the public interest,’ she said.
‘Second and third waves of whistleblowers, many from the health sector, are telling the public crucial truths about the management of the crisis. Doctors and nurses are reporting to us what is going on at the front line. We are learning about unethical behaviour in the markets and supply chains we rely on to provide medical equipment. Senior managers have warned us when executives have not taken proper care of the health and safety of employees and their customers.’
The open letter is a call to ensure those who speak up about the pandemic do not face reprisal.
‘As parliaments and congresses are shut down, and governments take extraordinary powers, we need ways to keep accountability and transparency,’ Dreyfus said. ‘Whistleblowers help to do that, but so do citizens watching and speaking up when they see over-reaches.’