Council Of Europe Acts To Protect Whistleblowers 06/05/2014 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The 47-member Council of Europe (CoE) recently made a move on whistleblower protection. But it remains to be seen what impact it will have. Last week, just in time for the World Press Freedom Day, the CoE Committee of Ministers passed a Recommendation on the Protection of Whistleblowers, asking that member states “have in place a normative, institutional and judicial framework to protect individuals who, in the context of their work-based relationship, report or disclose information on threats or harm to the public interest.” The recommendations includes a series of principles how to enact the protection. Whistleblowers should be protected in the national laws of the 47 members, the CoE ministers said. “Member States should ensure that there is in place an effective mechanism or mechanisms for acting on public interest reports and disclosures,” the recommendation reads. Whistleblowers should be protected from retaliation, they should be entitled to confidentiality, and also, states should follow up on the whistleblower’s report and “investigate promptly and issues reported be addressed. The Ministers in their recommendations included a national security exception, yet again. A “special scheme or rules, including modified rights and obligations, may apply to information relating to national security, defence, intelligence, public order or international relations of the State,” the ministers recommended. In a second document, the Committee of Ministers passed a declaration of the protection of journalists, making two highly interesting leaps: protection for journalists should not be so exclusive. “The scope of media actors has enlarged,” the ministers wrote. “Those at risk also include others who contribute to inform the public debate and persons performing journalistic activity or public watchdog functions.” The declaration also calls on countries to not only “refrain from interference,” but instead also accept a positive obligation to protect those informing the public. Both resolution and recommendation look strong on paper. But the gap between paper and practice is evident when checking the commitments made by CoE member states so far and the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters without Borders. While 31 of the 50 countries in the top places in the index are CoE members, several member states who also have agreed to the most recent documents rank close to the bottom of the 180 countries. These include Russia, which explicitly does not want to convey the same rights to bloggers as to journalists, and ranks 148, Turkey at 154 and Azerbaijan at 160. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."Council Of Europe Acts To Protect Whistleblowers" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.