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UJF statement: status of whistleblowers must be improved

The Union says that the situation and protection of whistleblowers will improve if allegations of corruption are better publicized and sources enjoy greater confidentiality.

The justice ministry requested that the UJF respond to the ministry’s recent working group report on ways to improve legislation protecting corruption whistle blowers.

In its statement to the ministry the UJF says that the report overlooks the role of the media in revealing allegations of corruption. The Union stresses that most allegations and revelations of corruption that get investigated come to light through the media.  In a democratic society the media plays a key role as a watchdog on state power. In cases of corruption, the media is an external entity with an interest in protecting its sources and preserving their confidentiality.
 
The main task of the media is to expose and make public society’s ills, the Union states.  Reporting instances of corruption is related to journalists’ protection of sources so that whistleblowers can divulge their information anonymously. Source protection for journalists is a categorical principle and right. The Union refers to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and in Swedish legislation, which it says provide a good frame of reference for upgrading Finnish legislation to improve the status of whistleblowers.

Swedish legislation protects whistleblowers who reveal cases of wrongdoing to the media, and forbids internal investigations and sanctions against whistleblowing civil servants. The lack of similar measures in Finland weakens the position of whistleblowers, the Union points out, and are not taken up by the Justice ministry’s report.  Nor does it assess the potential impact of forthcoming reforms to Finnish intelligence legislation on efforts to expose cases of corruption.

The Union expressed its readiness to take part in preparing legislation on measures to protect whistleblowers so they better take into account the role of the media.