Transparency International defines whistleblowing as "the disclosure of information related to corrupt, illegal, fraudulent or hazardous activities being committed in or by public or private sector organizations – which are of concern to or threaten the public interest – to individuals or entities believed to be able to effect action."
LTA's petition calls for a law that will protect whistleblowers in the public and private sectors by securing confidentiality and protecting their employment and the safety of their persons, family members, possessions and personal finances where relevant. A draft law for whistleblower protection is currently under review by a parliamentary subcommittee established under the Administration and Justice Committee in 2013 by MP Ghassan Moukheiber.
The petition is part of an advocacy campaign for whistleblower protection legislation led by the Lebanese Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (LALAC), an initiative by LTA to empower victims and witnesses of corruption in Lebanon. During the months of June and July, LALAC ran an ad campaign to raise public awareness about the need for a law to protect whistleblowers, under the slogan "Down with Corruption". Meetings with policymakers, business leaders, and members of the media to discuss the status of whistleblowers in Lebanon and the need for legislation to protect them ran in parallel to the ad campaign, and will continue throughout the summer.
Me. Nada Abdelsater – Abusamra, Chair of LTA, commented: "Whistleblower protection is one of several key anti-corruption laws we are advocating for in Lebanon, in order to fight corruption and promote transparency and accountability. Recent occasions where journalists were beaten and fined for their reports exposing public wrongdoing and corruption underscore the urgency and importance of passing this law. Clear mechanisms for reporting, as well as protection for those who disclose these practices, are vital for preserving the rule of law and protecting the public interest."
Atallah Salim, Advocacy Campaign Coordinator for LTA, added: "The Lebanese state has ratified several international anti-corruption conventions, including the UN Convention Against Corruption, and it is within this framework that we are calling on the Parliament to pass legislation that protects whistleblowers."
"We have highlighted key objectives for the law in the petition for citizens' signature, which we are using to mobilize public support while it is under review by the parliamentary subcommittee. At the same time, we are meeting with policymakers and asking them to sign a statement indicating their support for the law and their willingness to vote in its favor once it is submitted to the general assembly."
Lebanon ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2008, which states that each state party should take appropriate measures to provide "effective protection from potential retaliation or intimidation for witnesses and experts who give testimony" concerning corrupt practices, as well as for their relatives or persons close to them.
LTA Chair Me. Abdelsater – Abusamra commented in closing: "Despite the fact that whistleblower protection legislation has not yet been passed, citizens and residents of Lebanon are still taking the initiative to report corruption and take action to address their cases through the Lebanese Advocacy and Legal Advice Centers in Beirut, Bekaa and Nabatieh. LTA commends these individuals for their commitment to fighting corruption, as well as the public institutions which have offered their cooperation in responding to these reports."
Currently funded by the European Union (EU), the Lebanon Renaissance Foundation (LRF), the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), LALAC has received more than 350 calls over the past 8 months. LALAC offers free legal advice to victims and witnesses who call to report cases of corruption at its hotline 01-386-886, based on the existing legal framework and mechanisms for reporting. The LALAC legal team also follows up directly with public institutions to address the cases.
The petition calling on the Lebanese parliament to pass the whistleblower protection legislation is available on LTA's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LTANoCorruption.
The TV ad for the LALAC whistleblower protection campaign can be viewed on LTA's Youtube page here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHlmaRmA_To .
For any press enquiries please contact
Rachel Walsh, LALAC Project Manager
T: +961 1 388 113/4/5 Ext17
Hazar Assi, LTA Communication & Social Media Manager
T: +961 1 388 113/4/5 Ext17