Vietnam officials want better protection for whistleblowers

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Vietnamese government officials Thursday called for strong protection for whistleblowers because many of them have been harmed badly by the exposed, who are usually powerful persons.


They made the appeal at a meeting organized by the Central Party Steering Committee.


Reports submitted at the meeting showed a lot of cases in which the whistleblowers fell victims to their good deed.


One of them was Pham Thanh Binh, who worked hard to report acts of corruption among Cau Giay District authorities in Hanoi.


He was dismissed by the district party unit from his posts as secretary of the Communist Party unit of Nghia Do Ward in the district and chairman of the ward legislature.


Nguyen Thi Hoa, a local in Hanoi, has been terrorized with death threats and had dirty garbage thrown into her house after her many reports on corrupted acts by government officials in the area.


For exposing the illegal sale of 30 hectares of land by local officials in Huong Khe District in the north central province of Ha Tinh, Nguyen Kim Hop had more than 0.4 hectare of his own land taken by the district government.


Most opinions at the meeting said there should be a system to quickly rip the corrupt officials off their power so that they are unable to harm the ones exposing them.


Le Van Lan, deputy chief of the Corruption Prevention Steering Committee, said "Something needs to be done so that the exposed people no longer have the advantage to avenge or repress the whistleblowers."


Lan said the possibility of harmful revenge has made many people afraid or unenthusiastic about exposing corruption.


More than 85 percent of state government officials and 78 percent of business employees surveyed in 2005 said that they did not concern themselves about corruption because they were afraid of being repressed.



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Jairro Acuna Alfaro, policy advisor for the United Nations in Vietnam, said at the meeting that people exposing corruption in Vietnam face a lot of challenges.


He said Vietnam's corruption fighting strategies will only succeed when whistleblowers feel safe.


Officials at the meeting discussed different measures used in other countries to protect those who exposed corruption, as also their families.


They came up with several suggestions including perfecting the legal system, keeping whistleblowers' information confidential, and acting quickly on their reports.


Lan said the last requirement was the most important so that exposed officials do not have the time to thwart or take revenge on the whistleblowers.


"The reality is that some whistleblowers had already been harmed before concerned agencies did anything about their corruption report," he said.


In other countries, the exposed officials will be suspended right away and isolated from the community so that they cannot contact anyone to plot counter measures, Lan said.


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