Transparency body welcomes whistleblower legislation

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Red House on Abercromby Street, Port of Spain. – File photo

THE Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute applauds the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Bill in Parliament on June 21 and calls for its swift, uninterrupted passage in the Upper House.

“Whistleblower legislation has been identified as one of the key tools in the fight against corruption by TT Transparency Institute (TTTI). Our advocacy has been unrelenting for several years and we are delighted at this development,” it said in a statement.

“This legislation is meant to provide a safe space so that witnesses and victims of corrupt practices can feel assured that their disclosures of improper conduct in the public and private sector can be made under the protection of this legislation from detrimental action.”

The Whistleblower Protection Bill 2015 was introduced in the House of Representatives on November 13, 2015. It was referred to a Joint Select Committee and there was stakeholder consultation.

That led to the Whistleblower Protection Bill 2018, which was defeated because the Opposition voted against it and it needed a special majority to become law. Then, the Whistleblower Protection Bill 2019 lapsed when Parliament was dissolved the following year.

The Whistleblower Protection Bill 2022 was introduced on January 14, 2022, originating in the 2nd Session of Parliament and carried over to the 3rd and 4th Session.

The Bill states it is “an Act to combat corruption and other wrongdoings by encouraging and facilitating disclosures of improper conduct in the public and private sector, to protect persons making those disclosures from detrimental action, to regulate the receiving, investigating or otherwise dealing with disclosures of improper conduct and to provide for other matters connected therewith.”

On June 21, Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir broke ranks with his opposition colleagues and voted for the bill resulting in 22 votes for, and 15 against. Ragbir later told Newsday, that in his decision to vote for the bill, he put the country’s interest and his conscience first.

The Transparency Institute also called for the government to introduce, enact and enforce the campaign finance legislation before the 2025 elections to help fight against corruption, as previously promised.