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Coalition to Make Whistleblowing Safe During COVID-19 and Beyond

The signatories to this letter call on all public authorities and institutions to protect those who report or
expose the harms, abuses and serious wrongdoing that arise during this period of crisis caused by the COVID-
19 pandemic. We also encourage all citizens and workers to participate in ensuring our governments,
corporate institutions and markets remain accountable, and in defending the human rights and freedoms of
all people.

The COVID-19 pandemic brings into stark relief the importance of accountability and the need for regular and
reliable information from our public institutions and our leaders. The people of every affected country need to
know the truth about the spread of the disease both locally and internationally in order to respond effectively
and help protect their communities. Fairness, transparency and cooperation are vital and never more so than
during a pandemic.

We have already seen examples of wrongdoing and mismanagement in our public institutions, commercial
markets and business as a result of COVID-19. Emerging areas of concern include health system capacity and
delivery, public procurement, violations of health and safety and labor law, inequitable and ill-prepared global
supply chains, unfair competition practices and market abuses, and significant violations of personal privacy
rights at scale through the digital tracking of individuals.

Proper notification of risk to the public and to workers, fair and responsible conduct by all institutions, and
transparent data collection are all critical to public confidence in our ability to overcome this crisis. This is even
more important when the protections normally provided by the fundamental democratic pillars of our societies
are curtailed or side-stepped. Parliaments and democratic assemblies are being suspended in many countries.
The use of extraordinary powers by governments without proper public oversight and transparency creates a
tangible risk of overreach and potential misuse.

When decisions are taken in emergency conditions, often away from democratic scrutiny, whistleblowers can
play a vital early warning role. They are the corrective fail-safe mechanism in any society, especially in an
international health crisis when the public’s right to know can have life-or-death implications. In this time of
crisis and beyond, we encourage citizens and workers to participate in ensuring that proper accountability is
maintained in our governments, corporate institutions and markets, and in defending the human rights and
freedoms of all people.

During this pandemic we have already witnessed abuses. At various times, the fundamental rights of freedom
of expression and access to information have been restricted. The cost of these actions is most severely borne
by the most vulnerable members of our communities: the elderly, the poor, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ
communities, prisoners, the multitudes of precarious workers as well as frontline workers in the crisis.

Whistleblowing has proven to be a powerful tool to fight and prevent actions that undermine the public
interest. Our organizations call on all public authorities and corporate institutions to protect those who expose
harms, abuses and serious wrongdoing during the COVID-19 crisis, and beyond. Workers are taking risks daily
to maintain the many essential services which we rely upon, especially in these times, our health services, care
for elderly care and other social and public services, as well as food supply and logistics, just to name a few. The
importance of these workers, their right to a safe working environment and to speak up about threats to public
health and safety, corruption, and other abuses must be recognized and protected. Their disclosures, as well as
those from all citizens, are vital to preventing major disasters and reducing the impacts of the crisis on us all,
especially on the most vulnerable members of society and our democratic systems.

Access Info / ACREC / African Centre for Media & Information Literacy / Alliance Nationale des
Consomateurs et de L’Environement (Togo) / Anti Corruption Fund / APW-Filtrala / Archiveros Espanoles
en la Funcion Publica / Article 19 / Atlatszo / Austrian Press Club / Blueprint for Free Speech / Centre for
Free Expression, Ryerson University / Center for Independent Journalism Romania / Centre for Law and
Democracy / CFDT Cadres / Chile Transparente / Cibervoluntarios / Civic Initiatives (Gradjanske Inicijative)
/ Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre / Corporate Europe Observatory / CREW – Greenwich University
/ Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation / Prof. David Lewis, Whistleblowing Research Unit, Middlesex
University / Disruption Network Lab / ePanstwo Foundation / EPSU – European Public Service Union /
Eurocadres – Council of European Professional and Managerial Staff / ETUC – European Trade Union
Confederation / European Centre for Press and Media Freedom / European Federation of Journalists /
European Organisation of Military Associations and Trade Unions / Free Press Unlimited / Fundacion
Ciudadania Inteligente / Fundacion Internacional Baltasar Garzon (FIBGAR) / Funky Citizens / Ghana
Integrity Initiative / Government Accountability Project / Prof. AJ Brown, Griffith University / Hermes
Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights / Human Rights Center ZMINA / International Bar
Association / K-Monitor / Labor Initiatives NGO / Legal Legion Loyalty / Maison des Lanceurs D’Alerte /
Media Development Center / National Whistleblower Center / Oživeni / Pistaljka / Plataforma en Defensa
de Libertad de Informacion / Protect / Proyecto sobre Organizacion, Desarrollo, Educacion e Investigacion
(PODER) / Reporters United / Reporters Without Borders / Sabiedrība par atklātību – Delna (Latvia) /
Stefan Batory Foundation / The Ethicos Group / The Good Lobby / The Signals Network / Tom Mueller /
Transparencia e Integridade / Transparency International / Transparency International Australia /
Transparency International Bangladesh / Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina /
Transparency International Bulgaria / Transparency International Cambodia / Transparency International
Estonia / Transparency International EU / Transparency International France / Transparency International
Greece / Transparency International Health Initiative / Transparency International Ireland / Transparency
International Italy / Transparency International Kenya / Transparency International Initiative Madagascar
/ Transparency Maldives / Transparency International Papua New Guinea / Transparency Serbia /
Transparency International Slovenia / Transparency International Slovensko / Transparency International
Spain / Transparency International Sri Lanka / Transparency International Ukraine / Transparency
International Zimbabwe / UGICT CGT / Ukrainian Institute for Human Rights / Ukrainian league of lawyers
for corruption combating / UNI Europa / Uniting Church in Australia / Dr Vigjilenca Abazi, Maastricht
University / Vouliwatch / WIN Whistleblowing International Network / Whistleblower-Network Germany /