Today I am in Berlin for a conference on whistleblowing and whistleblower protection. There’s a cover of light snow on the ground and temperatures well below zero. The city is covered in grey cloud and has the feel of a place crawling back into hibernation until spring arrives. That is usually mid-April. I lived here for four years and by mid-March each year I would be desperate for the first buds. Winter is very long in eastern Europe and very cold.
This trip is part of my day job working for Transparency International, the anti-corruption organisation. We are exploring establishing a network that connects journalists, whistleblowers and advocacy organisations with whistleblower protection organisations. It’s interesting and complex. Whistleblowing is a powerful tool in the anti-corruption arsenal but it is not straightforward. Whistleblowers face enormous challenges when they decide to tell their stories and often end up the targets of slur campaigns. Some very interesting people spoke today about the importance of protecting whistleblowers not just with laws. Many countries have some sort of protection in place — though only three in Europe have specific whistleblower protection legislation — but it is not always implemented.
Tomorrow we start talking about the nitty-gritty of how a network of whistleblowers, journalists and advocacy organisations might work. It’s supposed to be sunny but I doubt it will get above freezing, but sun beats those low hanging clouds and will, I am sure, make me smile.