Edward Snowden helps France rediscover its own whistleblowers - Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship
For [Marie] Meyer, [Expert of Ethical Alerts at Transparency International, an anti-corruption NGO] France’s failure to protect whistleblowers employed in the public service has had direct consequences on the level of corruption in the country.
“Even if a public servant came to know that something was wrong with the financial accounts of a Minister, be it Cahuzac or someone else, how could he have had the courage to say it, and risk for his career and his life to be broken?” she says.
In June, as France discovered Edward Snowden’s revelations in the press over mass surveillance programs used by the National Security Agency, it started rediscovering its own whistleblowers: André Cicolella, Irène Frachon or Philippe Pichon, who was dismissed as a police commander in 2011 after his denunciations on the way police files were updated. Banker Pierre Condamin-Gerbier, a key witness in the Cahuzac case, was recently added to the list, when he was imprisoned in Switzerland on the 5th of July, two days after having been heard by the French Parliamentary Commission on the tax evasion case.
Three new laws protecting whistleblowers’ rights should be passed in the autumn. France will still be missing an independent body carrying out investigations into claims brought up by whistleblowerss, and an organisation to support them, like British charity Public Concern at Work does in the UK.
So far, French law doesn’t plan any particular protection to individuals who blow the whistle in the press, failing to recognise that, for a whistleblower, communicating with the press can be the best way to make a concern public – guaranteeing that the message won’t be forgotten, while possibly seeking to limit the reprisal against the messenger.