An analysis of whistleblower laws across the EU has ranked Malta’s as the second best.

The study, conducted by NGO Blueprint For Free Speech, measured the laws and policies against nine key European and international standards.

Only four countries – Ireland, Malta, France and the UK – scored more than 50 per cent of the maximum possible, with Ireland scoring the highest at 66.7 per cent, Malta second with 59.3 per cent and the UK and France in joint third with 51.9 per cent.

The study found that only 13 of the 28 countries scored above 25 per cent, while seven countries met none of the standards, in whole or in part, and scored 0 per cent across all categories: Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Spain.

Of 16 countries with specific provisions in place, 12 have passed their laws since 2011. Three of the four highest-scoring countries – including Malta – passed their laws since 2013.

The European Commission estimated in 2014 that corruption costs the economy €120 billion a year.

READ: Commission seeks tougher new whistleblower protection rules

The report made an impassioned plea in favour of whistleblowers, saying that worldwide, they had “saved many lives, helped recover billions of dollars in stolen and wasted funds, preserved environmental resources, and protected communities from public health dangers”.

It lamented that although the EU, 19 of 28 EU countries enacted at least partial legal protections for whistleblowers, none of these laws fully meet European and international conventions and standards.

Standard 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
EU 1.71 1.18 0.86 0.61 0.50 0.39 0.25 0.36 0.362
MALTA 4 2 3 1 1 3 1 1 0

“Though the EU is considered a world leader in open government, citizen participation and human rights, nearly every country fails to provide the rights and protections whistleblowers need. The result is career, financial and personal ruin for many employees who speak up while others remain silent.

“Whistleblowers are deterred from coming forward and can be retaliated against with impunity. They lack safe reporting channels, access to justice and assurances that their disclosures will be acted upon. There is a correlation between the inadequacy of whistleblower rights and protections, and the ability of guilty parties to continue their criminal and corrupt activities without the fear of being exposed.

“With the scales weighted against whistleblowers, regulators and law enforcement officials miss opportunities to investigate and prosecute guilty parties, and to take corrective actions. The main victim of this imbalance is society itself.”

Whistleblowers are protected from reprisals by the UN Convention against Corruption, OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the European Criminal Law Convention on Corruption.

The nine standards

1. Specific whistleblower protection provisions for employees in public and private sectors

2. A full range of disclosure channels: internal, regulatory, public

3. Protection from all types of retaliation

4. A full range of retaliation protection mechanisms

5. A full range of relief types and mechanisms

6. Immunity from prosecution for disclosing sensitive information

7. Penalties for whistleblower retaliation and other mistreatment

8. Appointment of a designated whistleblower agency

9. Transparent administration and statistics

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