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General News Tue, 1 Jun 2010

Ghana launches pocketsize whistleblower booklet

Accra, June 1, GNA - President John Evans Atta Mills' commitment to make the penalty for corruption so high and eradicate it was given an impetus with the publication of "User's Guide to the Whistleblower," booklet.

The 34-page sea-blue pocketsize booklet with the effigy of a frightening, shivering bald-headed old man on a phone imbued on the front page was produced by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition in collaboration with the British High Commission in Accra.

The booklet highlight measures for increase awareness of what can be done to combat unlawful, illegal and corrupt practices in Ghana and project means to increase honesty and good behaviour in relation to public monies, properties and other resources.

Professor Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, former Executive Director of the National Reconciliation Commission who reviewed and launched the booklet noted defined corruption as the abuse of trust for private gain by persons in whom trust is vested. He said corruption goes beyond giving and taking bribes, in addition to economic crimes, "many forms of unlawful and improper conduct negatively affect Ghana's development".

Prof Attafuah said although Ghana has many laws to deal with different forms of corruption and other improper behaviours, the laws are not always effective. "This is partly because most of these practices occur in secret, and those who engage in them take steps to "cover their tracks". Sometimes, however, some individuals witness these corrupt and improper acts, or get to know about them.

"Indeed, every year, thousands of employees, managers, corporate executives and other officials witness serious acts of impropriety or wrongdoing that cost the nation a great deal. Sadly, most of them do not disclose such wrongdoing mainly because they are afraid of being victimized," he said.

Prof Attafuah noted that sometimes, patriotic citizens with information about impropriety do not disclose it because they are not sure whether the persons to whom they report such acts will act properly to protect the public interest, to stop the improper act from taking place, or to have those who have engaged in such impropriety dealt with in accordance with the law.

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He said the Whistleblower Act (Act 720) is an important anti-corruption tool, that encourages and supports individuals to "blow the whistle" on unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of other persons. It also protects any person who "blows the whistle" or exposes the corrupt or other unlawful conduct of other persons. He said this is necessary in order to ensure that whistleblowers are not victimized by being fired from their work, harassed, intimidated, discriminated against, assaulted or even killed by those who engaged in the improper conduct, or who may benefit from it.

The booklet focuses on the meaning and benefits of "whistle blowing," types of corruption and other unlawful conduct on which the whistle can be blown; how and where to blow the whistle; legal protections available to the whistleblower; how to access legal assistance during the investigation and how to work with the media after blowing the whistle The booklet also specifically, answers most frequently asked questions about the Whistleblower's Act: What is Whistle blowing? Can I blow the whistle about anyone? To whom can I make a disclosure of impropriety? and In what form can I make a disclosure of impropriety?

Can I disclose an impropriety by using the telephone?

What should I do if I am too sick or injured to go to a specified person to make an oral disclosure?

Other issues are what happen if the person to whom I blow the whistle fails to keep the information confidential? What factors may a whistle blower take into account in deciding to whom to report an impropriety? Can I be sued for blowing the whistle? When does the law protect a whistleblower?

The booklet also identifies institutions that a whistleblower can disclose impropriety to for redress. 01 June 10

Source: GNA
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