Synopsis: Whistleblower protection laws certainly are important – and more than 45 countries in all regions have passed some type of legislation. But what do you do when you have no legal rights to fall back on? How can victimized whistleblowers get their job back, be compensated for lost wages and other damages, ward off retaliatory criminal charges and civil actions, and otherwise be made whole after suffering reprisals? It’s possible, but it’s usually a long road that leads to partial or pyrrhic victories at best.
• Kolping International whistleblower Brigitte Fuzellier (Paraguay/Germany). She exposed the misspending of large amounts of German and EU public funds at the Paraguayan operations of Kolping International, an influential Catholic charity based in Cologne. As retaliation, Fuzellier was fired, public slandered and prosecuted on dubious criminal charges. There were two kidnapping atttempts on her daughter. The retaliation persisted for 10 years and destroyed Fuzellier’s local businesses. Kolping, closely tied to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic party, continues to receive millions of euros in public funds each year.
• Illegal wiretapping whistleblower Gjorgji Lazarevski (North Macedonia). He exposed the illegal wiretapping of thousands of political opponents and journalists by Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. As retaliation, Lazarevski and colleague Zvonko Kostovski were fired, threatened and imprisoned for a year. Following investigations, they were freed and Gruevski was forced to resign. A long campaign by activists led to Lazarevski and Kostovski being reinstated to their public service jobs. Neither was financially compensated for their losses.
• Ecobank whistleblower Altu Sadie (Togo/South Africa). He exposed improper currency exchanges and inflated profits at Ecobank, the largest independent regional bank in West/Central Africa. After he was fired in 2017, Sadie gave damning and high-profile testimony before South Africa’s Pubic Investment Corporation. He won an unfair dismissal case in Togo and was awarded $2 million in damages, but he has not yet received the funds due to frivolous appeals by Ecobank.
Moderator: Mark Worth, Whistleblowing International / European Center for Whistleblower Rights / Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection