Whistleblowers to get more protection

21st April 2008, Comments 0 comments

Pieter van Vollenhoven, the Princess' husband, is spearheading this movement to protect those who have helped to expose unethical practices.

21 April 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - Pieter van Vollenhoven, who chairs both the Dutch Safety Board and the Dutch Society, Security and Police Foundation, has called for the establishment of an independent organisation to guarantee the protection of whistleblowers who expose illegal or unethical practices.

The new organisation would also be responsible for investigating the whistleblowers' claims. Van Vollenhoven made his remarks in the TV current affairs programme Zembla on Sunday evening.

Up to now, most whistleblowers in the Netherlands have seen their lives badly affected. Van Vollenhoven, who is married to Princess Margriet of The Netherlands, describes the case of building contractor Ad Bos as "highly regrettable".

In 2001, Bos exposed large-scale fraudulent practices in the construction sector, whereby building companies made secret agreements to defraud public funds.

Despite the fact that a parliamentary enquiry proved Bos' reports to be correct, he is now homeless and unemployed, as he is no longer able to find work in the construction industry.

Another famous whistleblower, an army social worker, has been unemployed for 24 years as a result of his revelation that the death of a soldier was caused by a defective landmine. The Defence Ministry had attempted to cover up the affair.

Joep van der Vliet, a lecturer in legal ethics at the University of Amsterdam, says he identifies "a pattern in the way the government deals with whistleblowers - the government stigmatises them," adding that "a whole series of people can bear witness to the fact that with the government and parliament the interests of whistleblowers are not in safe hands."

Also speaking in Sunday's Zembla, lawyer Olav Haazen said the situation in The Netherlands contrasts sharply with that in the United States. There, if a company is fined as a result of malpractice exposed by a whistleblower, the whistleblower is awarded between 15 and 30 percent of the fine.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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