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(Apr 26, 2010) On April 20, 2010, Liberia's President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, sent a bill to the country's two legislative bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill contained the text of a proposed law to protect whistleblowers. According to Sirleaf, the act, when in force, will defend those who disclose information for the public good, whether those whistleblowers are in the public or private sectors. She expressed the hope that the proposed law will counter corruption and promote good governance. The bill went to committee for review in each legislative house. In addition, a bill on the establishment of a Law Reform Commission will be considered by a Senate committee. (Julius Kanubah, Whistleblower Act Surfaces at Legislature, STAR RADIO ONLINE, Apr. 21, 2010, available at http://www.starradio.org.lr/content/view/15579/380/.)

Sirleaf had issued an executive order in December 2009, while the legislature was in recess, on protection of whistle blowers, in advance of the planned submission of a bill. Executive Order Number 22 banned public and private employers from retaliating against those who disclose information about improper actions that are counter to public interest. It defined public interest disclosures as those revealing "illegality, criminality, breach of law, miscarriage of justice, danger to public health and safety, and damage to environment," as well as attempts at cover ups. (Liberia: Fight Against Corruption Intensifies - Whistleblowers Get Presidential Greenlight, ALLAFRICA.COM, Dec. 21, 2009, available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200912211612.html.) Those subject to retaliation for such disclosures were permitted by the Order to bring claims in court; violators could be subject to criminal penalties, including imprisonment for up to two years. In addition, anyone fearing retaliation for pubic interest disclosures could appeal for a change of work assignment. If money were recovered on the basis of a disclosure, the whistleblower was entitled to five percent of the amount received. (Id.)

The advocacy group, the National Whistleblowers Legal Defense and Education Fund, congratulated Liberia on its steps to protect whistleblowers, stating that the scope of protection "already far exceeds that of any U.S. whistleblower protection law." (Richard Renner, Liberian President Issues Executive Order to Protect Whistleblowers, WHISTLEBLOWERS PROTECTION BLOG, Dec. 22, 2009, available at http://www.whistleblowersblog.org/2009/12/articles/legislation/internati
onal-1/liberian-president-issues-executive-order-to-protect-whistleb
lowers/
.)

Author: Constance Johnson More by this author
Topic: Government ethics and transparency More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Liberia More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 04/26/2010