Awareness level of Whistle Blowers Act still low – GACC

corruptionA research conducted by the Ghana Anti Corruption Coalition (GACC), a civil society organization, reveals that the public has very limited knowledge about the Whistle Blowers Act 2006 (Act720).

Parliament of Ghana passed the Whistle blower Act in 2006 as an anti-corruption tool to empower people to expose corruption and wrongdoing in both public and private sector institutions.

Mr Roland Akabzaa, Research Officer at GACC, said this on Wednesday at a day’s forum to highlight on the findings of the research in Accra.

He said the GACC saw the Act as a useful anti-corruption tool and had since been organizing training workshops for identified groups and institutions mandated to handle Whistle Blowers’ report.

He said the research, which was conducted in four regions of the country also revealed that apart from Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), many of the mandated institutions at the regional level had not received any substantial training on the Act since it was passed.

“These institutions also do not have clearly outlined processes and procedures for receiving complaints on whistle blowing,” he said.

Mr Akabzaa said the public, including the media were not aware of their responsibility of handling whistleblowers’ report due to the competition of being the first to break the news.

He said the implementing institutions such as religious and traditional leaders were also aware of the Act but did not know the responsibility the Act provides in ensuring that they keep such information confidential otherwise they would be imprisoned.

He said aside the above challenges the research also uncovered cultural issues as a hindrance for people to come forward to report on concerns.

“The name ‘whistle blowing’ in our local languages is not encouraging. Participants struggle to get a suitable name to replace the negative connotation of Act’s name in the local languages.

“People also indicated that even though whistle blowers’ identity may be protected others can use spiritual means to identify the person who reported the crime and harm them physically or spiritually,” Mr Akabzaa said.

The research also identified monetary awards as a major challenge as some people felt that reporting a crime should be a civic responsibility and not for monetary gains and others had raised concerns about the effectiveness of the proposed reward system and how it would be paid.

“Similar concerns were expressed about the Board that manages the fund, there were no clear guidance on the timelines, and on when the rewards will be paid to the whistle blower after the prosecution to ensure that the whistle blower was not frustrated through this process,’ he said.

He attributed all these limitations to inadequate education and low level of awareness on the Act and stressed the need to intensify education and awareness creation on the Act to ensure successful implementation.

The research recommended that a Legislative Instrument (LI) should be made for the Act to strengthen its implementation and designated institutions be made to create whistle blowers desks.

It had also recommended that key officers in the public sector should be included in the training and awareness workshops to understand and appreciate the Act.

Mr Charles Ayamdoo, Director, Anti-Corruption Department, CHRAJ, said the Commission also undertook several awareness programmes across the country prior to the implementation of the Act.

He said they observed some weaknesses such as confidentiality, public sector bias and limited awareness and these defeated the purpose of the Act.

Mr Ayamdoo urged the public to know the mandated institutions and always go there to report to have the right protection as stipulated in the Act.

Source: GNA

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