Importance of Whistleblower Protection for Ukraine

Whistleblowers are everyday people who just want to do the right thing. They risk everything to reveal wrongdoing and corruption in the public interest. Whistleblowing is among the most effective, if not the most effective means to expose and remedy corruption, fraud and other types of wrongdoing in government and companies. Whistleblowers have saved countless lives and tens of billions of dollars. Food is safer, water is cleaner, taxpayer money is spent more wisely, and corporations are more accountable in countries with functioning whistleblower procedures.

For too many years Ukraine has been in a corruptive cycle. Following the historic revolution at the end of 2013, the people of Ukraine stood united against government corruption. They stood for democracy and transparency. Whistleblower protection is another step along this path – by guaranteeing the human rights owed to those brave people who risk everything for the public good.

Without strong whistleblower laws, employees are subject to harassment, firing, physical threats and other types of retaliation. This deters or even prevents people from reporting information which could save lives, environmental resources or money. Lacking strong legal protections, government and corporate employees who report wrongdoing to their managers or to regulators can face dismissal, harassment and other forms of retaliation. With employees deterred from coming forward, government and corporate misconduct can perpetuate. Such wrongdoing can lead to wasted taxpayer money, unsafe consumer products, public health threats, unsound financial practices and environmental damage.

Ukraine must learn from the example of other countries. For example, thanks to whistleblowers’ disclosures, the US has recovered US$35 billion in fines, and lost and stolen taxpayer money since 1986 – including a record US$4.9 billion in 2012. In 2012, the year after South Korea passed a strong whistleblower protection law, the government recovered about US$10 million stemming from 40 cases initiated by whistleblowers. The time has come to protect these brave people, and to further eliminate corruption in Ukraine.