Amendments to the Whistleblower Act currently before parliament confirmed how the government was only prepared to give the minimum level of protection demanded by EU law to people who revealed wrongdoing, even though the local context demanded much more, the opposition said on Tuesday.

Shadow minister Therese Comodini Cachia said the government had a history of promoting impunity by protecting abusers rather than whistleblowers.

The new EU law which Malta was adopted, was undoubtedly a step forward, but it did not go far enough in the local context, she stressed.

For example, the government was not legislating to extend protection to whistleblowers who wished to remain anonymous, something which was found in several other countries, such as the United States.

Another issue was that there was no commonality in the way whistleblower protection was granted across government agencies and departments.

In an example of political hypocrisy in the local context, whistleblowers first had to take their information through internal channels, rather than being allowed to disclose what they knew to quarters they were more comfortable in.

This was a deterrent for whistleblowers, who in most cases were uncomfortable in going before their internal channels, who might have been responsible for wrongdoing in the first place.

Clearly, Comodini Cachia said, the government was not ready to do more in the national interest to protect people who only wished to reveal information out of their sense of duty and love for the country. Instead, the government was seeking to gag such people.  

Other speakers included Nationalist MP Carm Mifsud Bonnici, who underlined the need for stronger provisions in the law to protect workers who revealed wrongdoing at their place of work. This legislation, he insisted, should not be used just for major cases involving politicians.

This principle also needed to be extended to the members of the disciplined forces. In their case, the relevant clauses were already in the law, but they were not brought into force.

One needed to change the culture where people turned a blind eye to abuse, to avoid trouble, even if it meant that injustices and illegalities were committed.

“This law needs to reach every corner of the country,” the Nationalist MP stressed.

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