Despite Its Enthusiasm For Edward Snowden, Switzerland Close To Passing Law To Make Whistleblowing Effectively Illegal

from the one-step-forward,-two-steps-back dept

Recently we wrote that Switzerland was keen for Edward Snowden to travel there to testify about US surveillance. Given that evident appreciation of the value of a whistleblower in revealing unsuspected wrong-doing, this news from Reuters that Switzerland’s parliament is considering a law to tighten the rules governing this area is rather disappointing:

Although the bill aims to clarify a grey area of the law, it will effectively outlaw whistleblowing unless Swiss authorities — renowned worldwide as a model of efficiency — fail to follow correct procedures.

Apparently, this approach flows from the Swiss belief that employees have a fundamental duty to their employers, and so they must always report wrongdoings to them in the first instance. That’s bad enough — it could easily lead to the whisteblower being punished for speaking up — but it gets worse:

Any response from the authorities — even a decision not to investigate — would nullify an whistleblower’s right to go to the media, said Zora Ledergerber, owner of Integrity Line LLC, which advises companies on internal reporting systems.

Although that might seem to make sense in a country whose banking services pride themselves on their discretion, it’s rather foolish, since it means that abuses and wrong-doing that could have been stopped will continue to fester, ultimately damaging the country and the rule of law there. The bill has been passed (original in German) by the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house, and now moves to the country’s National Council for approval.

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Comments on “Despite Its Enthusiasm For Edward Snowden, Switzerland Close To Passing Law To Make Whistleblowing Effectively Illegal”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

So about that visit...

If I remember correctly, for an extradition request to be valid and enforceable, the action in question needs to be criminal in both countries, not just one of them. The USG is claiming that Snowden violated the laws by his actions, so that’s the US half. If this passes, then Snowden’s actions would have violated Switzerland law as well, so that’s the other half.

Might want to re-think that visit…

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