Workshop on Whistleblower Act held for stakeholders in Accra

LESS than 50 cases of illicit practices have been reported to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in 13 years, following the passage of the Whistleblower Act, 2006, (Act 750).

Charles Ayamdoo, CHRAJ Director of Anti-Corruption who said this, expressed worry that few people were ‘blowing the whistle’ to the 18 mandated institutions though the act provided protection and financial reward.

“I am surprised [at the figures]. We should be getting thousands of disclosures because of the wrong doings ongoing in the country, especially environment degradation,” he said.

Mr Ayamdoo was speaking at a stakeholder sensitisation workshop on the Whistleblower Act and Procurement Standard Clause for some public institutions and media houses in Accra yesterday.

Participants were from the Audit Service, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), Ministry of the Interior, Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Office of Attorney General and Ministry of Justice (OAGMJ) and Public Procurement Authority (PPA).

The Whistleblower Act provides a framework for individuals to disclose information that relates to unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of others in the public interest, as well as protection and financial reward.

The 18 institutions where reports could be made include, Attorney General, Auditor General, Ghana Police Service, head of recognised religious body, ministry of state, and district assembly.

According to Mr Ayamdoo,  the reported cases included padding of salaries, misappropriation, embezzlement, mismanagement, causing financial loss to the state and illegal logging of timber.

He said they had been dealt with and forwarded to the office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice for further action with about four cases pending at the CHRAJ head office alone.

He rebuffed concerns raised at the workshop that people had not been reporting because of inadequate protection and victimisation, explaining that protection was provided only on request.

In the last 13 years, Mr Ayamdoo said less than five whistleblowers had complained of victimisation with one person provided a 24-hour protection adding that this was due to how professionals at  the commission handled cases. 

Victimisation and death threats, he said, would be avoided if whistleblowers refrained from the practice whereby they went to the media to announce it after lodging a report at CHRAJ.

He said while the commission expected people to blow the whistle, it should be noted that the avenue was not for settling personal scores but for “public interest and good faith”.

Mr Ayamdoo noted that there was little coordination between the various agencies mandated to receive complaints and hoped that the amendment of the act would resolve this and other challenges.

Mr Asiama Sarpong, Chief State Attorney at the OAGMJ said the office had not yet received direct reports from whistleblowers but was acting on various reports from CHRAJ and other institutions.

He  therefore urged the public to use the appropriate procedures to give information to law enforcement agencies to clamp down on illicit activities in the country.

Abdul-Latif Alhassan, personnel from the PPA, in a presentation of Procurement Standard Clause, described procurement breaches as a major challenge in the country which could be surmounted with whistle blowing.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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