Customs whistle-blower: TISL flags protection clause in RTI act

Customs whistle-blower: TISL flags protection clause in RTI act

May 8, 2017   03:53 pm

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Reports that a senior Customs investigation officer Assistant Superintendent W.M.R.P. Wijekoon has been sent on compulsory leave on allegations of leaking information to the media, have raised concerns over the protection of whistleblowers, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) said.
 

TISL is concerned that the provision within the Right to Information (RTI) Act which seeks to protect whistleblowers, has not been considered prior to disciplinary action being taken under the Establishments Code, the TISL said in a statement on Monday.

 
The provisions of the RTI Act override all other written law, including the Establishments Code. The officer was reportedly sent on compulsory leave for violating the Establishments Code by using a trade union as a conduit for providing information to the media.
 

The statement further stated, “TISL believes that due consideration has not been paid in this matter to Section 40 of the RTI Act - the whistleblower provision - which reads as follows;
 

“Notwithstanding any legal or other obligation to which a person may be subject to by virtue of being an officer or employee of any public authority, no officer or employee of a public authority shall be subjected to any punishment, disciplinary or otherwise, for releasing or disclosing any information which is permitted to be released or disclosed under this Act”.
 

TISL highlights the importance of expediting the process of amending the Establishments Code to reflect the provisions and principles of RTI and urges authorities to consider the whistleblower protection clause in the case of Assistant Superintendent W.M.R.P. Wijekoon.”

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