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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:26am

    NSA say's mark another one up for us guys ,these Countries are dropping like fly's just as planned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:36am

    Well of course

    Foreign whistle blowers: good people.
    Domestic whistle blowers: TERRORISTS!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, 24 Sep 2014 @ 9:57am

    So basically, you're supposed to report the abuse to the proper authority, but if they say, "We're not going to investigate," then you can't blow the whistle and whatever scumbaggy thing was being done will continue to be done? Yippee. I love accountability, or the lack thereof.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 2:00am

      Re:

      "Any response from the authorities"

      Take it to the authorities first, if you get a response, no matter what it is, you cannot talk to media.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 10:03am

    Shadow banking and tax dodging is legal in Switzerland, but whistleblowing is not. The way to judge a society is by observing how the most vulnerable in that society are treated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 10:03am

    Thank you for blowing the whistle on this!

    (which will shortly become illegal in Switzerland)

    It's good that someone is blowing the whistle on the fact that whistleblowing will become illegal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 11:14am

    Insert Nelson Laugh Here

    Every time some European snidely chides us 'Murikans about how bad our country is getting, I see an article like this and don't feel so bad. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2014 @ 12:26pm

    thus another country moves towards totalitarism

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Sep 2014 @ 3:12pm

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ac, 24 Sep 2014 @ 4:39pm

    In the past, Switzerland has given somebody a criminal sentence for exposing serious mispractice at Swiss-based multinational Hoffman La Roche, so it's not entirely a novel position for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2014 @ 5:51am

    Aw....Hoffman La Roche...they might be crooked but they make me keep my sanity (Bromazepam script, used to be diazepam).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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