UN rights expert: governments must ensure whistleblower protections
UN rights expert: governments must ensure whistleblower protections

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye [official profile] spoke out [press release] on Thursday against governments and international organizations who lack protection for whistleblowers. Kaye believes that there are numerous whistleblowers who withhold information that should be made public because of intimidation from government officials and peers. In his report [text], the UN Special Rapporteur noted that individuals have a right to access pertinent information under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text]. In regards to what level of disclosure of information should be allowed, Kaye said, “[s]tates may restrict access to information in specific areas and narrow circumstances, yet the disclosure of information relating to human rights or humanitarian law violations should never be the basis of penalties of any kind.” Kaye noted that the issue has silenced journalists, bloggers, and other media officials but fears that more of the world population remains hesitant to bring issues to light.

Last October the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] revived a whistleblower’s lawsuit [JURIST report] against JPMorgan Chase & Co. [corporate website]. In a unanimous decision, the court vacated and remanded a lower court’s grant of summary judgment [order, PDF] to JPMorgan, which had effectively tossed a suit filed by former vice president Jennifer Sharkey. Sharkey filed a complaint in October 2009 with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) [official website] claiming that JPMorgan ignored major signs of fraudulent consumer practices in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act [text, PDF]. The previous month the UN Appeals Tribunal [official website] overturned [JURIST report] a decision in favor of a whistleblower involved with the UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. James Wasserstrom, a US diplomat currently serving as an anti-corruption officer at the US embassy in Kabul, accused high-level colleagues of retaliating after he suggested that they had been involved in corruption during the mission.