BTI Pushes for Stronger Whistleblower Protections Act to Combat Corruption



Bhutan, consistently ranked highly in global happiness indexes, still faces the challenge of corruption. To address this issue, the Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI) is pushing for a change with a new policy. Advocating for a crucial weapon in the combat: a Witness Protection Act to ensure the safety and security of individuals who report corruption.

This particular initiative is fueled by the findings of the National Corruption Barometer Survey (NCBS) 2023, a comprehensive study conducted by BTI. The survey paints a concerning picture, revealing a growing public concern about corruption and highlighting the need to increase citizen engagement. The report lay open where various forms of corruption, such as trading influence and abuse of function, are prevalent, with civil servants perceived as the most susceptible group.

The recent awareness workshop held in Paro was attended by members of parliament, civil society organizations (CSO), and media houses.

Highlighted the increasing concern over corruption and the need for improved reporting mechanisms, Dr. Rinzin Rinzin, Executive Director of BTI, emphasized the deterrent effect a robust whistleblower protection program can have. He pointed out the difficulties faced by whistleblowers in Bhutan’s close societies, where fear of exposure and retaliation hinders people from reporting even when they witness corruption.

Limited reporting options and lack of protection hinder progress

Dr. Rinzin Rinzin said that the reasons of having the high corruption in the country, “Currently, Bhutan has no specific legal framework for protecting whistleblowers. While the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) accepts anonymous reports, the absence of a dedicated act raises concerns about confidentiality and potential risks for individuals.”

He added, “Lack of widespread awareness regarding reporting channels further discourages potential whistleblowers.”

BTI’s efforts go beyond advocacy. The organization plays a crucial role in facilitating reporting by accepting complaints and offering support to individuals who come forward. This accessibility empowers citizens who may not have access to the ACC’s offices, particularly those residing in remote regions.

BTI has a vision of a top-10 ranking in the Global Anti-Corruption Index

Dr. Rinzin Rinzin envisions Bhutan achieving a top-5 or 6 ranking in the global anti-corruption index within the next decade. He believes that a strong whistleblower protection act, coupled with the ongoing efforts of BTI, ACC, and the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), is crucial to achieving this ambitious goal.He even acknowledges the potential for such an act to be applicable in other areas, including protecting witnesses in terrorism-related cases.

“However, beyond the corruption concerned, implementing such a law comes with challenges, including ensuring its effectiveness and preventing potential misuse. Learning from best practices in other countries, while adapting them to Bhutan’s specific context, will be critical for navigating these challenges,” Dr. Rinzin Rinzin added.

BTI’s initiative in advocating for a Witness Protection Act demonstrates the organization’s unwavering commitment to promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance in Bhutan. The success of this endeavor hinges on collaboration between the government, civil society organizations, and the public.

BTI acknowledges that the successful implementation of this act requires a collaborative effort from various stakeholders. The Government holds the prime responsibility for enacting and enforcing the legislation, ensuring sufficient resources for its implementation, and fostering a culture that respects and protects whistleblowers.

The CSO like BTI, will play a vital role in raising awareness about the act, providing support to whistleblowers, and motoring its effectiveness. Additionally, the media holds immense power in educating the public about the act, holding authorities accountable, and promoting ethical reporting practices.

The BIT organization even mentioned that by raising awareness, fostering open dialogue, and encouraging active participation, Bhutan can create a conducive environment for individuals to come forward and report wrongdoing without fear of reprisal. This, in turn, will pave the way for a more just and equitable society, solidifying Bhutan’s position as a hope of good governance in the region.

Moreover, they concluded the conference with the BTI’s initiative for a Whistleblower Protection Act stands as a powerful testament to their unwavering commitment to building a Bhutan free from corruption. By advocating for this legislation and fostering society, BTI strives to create an environment where individuals can safely report corruption, contributing to a bright future for the country characterized by transparency, and continuing a strong commitment to ethical principles.

Related Posts

About The Author