Legislative text that will provide whistleblowers with better protection while also remedying bad practices by all member states was on Tuesday approved by a European Parliament committee.

The text was approved with 22 votes in favour, one against.

Once adopted, it will go to plenary where discussions on it becoming law would commence.

“It is a must to protect persons who report breaches of law including corruption in public procurement and money-laundering. This is in the public interest as money which can be invested in more health services and housing is currently being sieved to the very few.

“This law is also about ensuring environmental and safety standards and consumer protection. Today’s vote will give whistleblowers adequate protection and remedy bad practices in member states,” PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said following the vote, taken in the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI).

The MEP had tabled amendments calling for the granting of whistleblower status to be “administered independently of the government”.

The amendments tabled by Dr Zammit Dimech sought to ensure that those who disclosed information publicly qualified for protection where reporting persons have valid reasons to believe that there is collusion between the perpetrator of the breach and the competent authority or that evidence can be concealed and destroyed. The amendments were endorsed by various political groups.

In recent days, the European Broadcasting Union, the European Federation of Journalists, European Magazine Media Association, the European Newspaper Association and News Media Europe had also asked MEPs to ensure that the proposed directive on the protection of whistleblowers guaranteed a “robust protection for persons choosing to turn to the media to report unlawful or wrongful acts”.

The government has heralded local laws on whistleblowing as being among the best in Europe, yet according to Dr Zammit Dimech the legislation “is nothing else than part of an ongoing spin campaign by the government”.

“The government protects and gives contracts to whistleblowers who blow a whistle which is pleasant to the government. On the other hand people who unveil corruption are not given protection.

“Worse than that the government systematically attacks people who turn up to be whistle-blowers and tries to discredit them. This whistleblowing legislation is thus a counter-measure to the bad practices of a number of member states including Malta,” Dr Zammit Dimech went on.

After being granted whistleblower status, Gozitan building contractor Joseph Cauchi had received a number of direct orders and tenders connected to government school projects.

Meanwhile, former anti-money laundering unit (FIAU) official Jonathan Ferris, who was sacked before his probation period was up, had to initiate legal action against the authorities in June after being denied whistleblower status.

In a judicial protest, Mr Ferris argued that he had been asked by the whistleblowing unit within the Office of the Prime Minister to reveal all the information he had in hand before being granted the whistleblower status.

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