Bhutan Transparency Initiative urges parliamentarians to enact Witnesses and Whistleblowers Protection Act

The Bhutan Transparency Initiative is urging parliamentarians to enact a Witnesses and Whistleblowers Protection Act in the country. This was shared at a workshop attended by parliamentarians, representatives from Civil Society Organisations, and media houses in Paro, yesterday. The Bhutan Transparency Initiative emphasised that such an act would empower people to speak out against wrongdoings and curb corruption in the country.

Following a daylong brainstorming session on the prevalence of corruption and identifying shortcomings in anti-corruption efforts in the country, all the participants including the members of parliament agreed, through a show of hands that there is a need to enact a Witnesses and Whistleblowers Protection Act.

“People are not reporting corruption. They see and experience corruption, they want to report but, because it is a small community, they do not want to be taken as a black sheep. So, if we have the act, then people will feel secure and report any corruption. Even the organisations that receive the reports will be careful, they will not leak out the identity of the complainants. Today, there are cases of leaking identities of the whistleblowers,” said Rinzin Rinzin (PhD), Executive Director of Bhutan Transparency Initiative.

Chapter 7 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2011 mentions the protection of witnesses and informers, but the Bhutan Transparency Initiative says more needs to be done.

“The chapter in the ACC Act is very brief and not comprehensive. For instance, in other countries, there are separate acts for whistleblowers. In other countries, whistleblowers will be protected to the level of changing identity and changing country. That is the level of protection we are looking at,” said the Executive Director of the Bhutan Transparency Initiative.

While it is not sure if the outcome of the workshop would help culminate in comprehensive legislation for the protection of witnesses and whistleblowers, the Bhutan Transparency Initiative has plans to enhance corruption-reporting efforts.

For this, the CSO will be opening regional offices in Bumthang and Monggar soon.

Namgay Wangchuk, Paro

Edited by Kipchu

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