Italian Senate should urgently discuss whistleblower law

Because the Italian Senate has not yet discussed a whistleblowing law approved by the lower house of Parliament over a year ago, whistleblowers risking their livelihood to speak out against injustice and corruption in the workplace in Italy are still without protection. Until both the lower house and the Senate approve the law, whistleblowers may still face retaliation from their employers.   

This is why the Italian chapter of Transparency International (TI) and the Italian anti-corruption NGO Riparte il futuro started the campaign Voices of Justice (#vocidigiustizia) in July 2016 asking the Senate to urgently discuss the law to protect whistleblowers approved by the lower house. As part of their advocacy, Italian campaigners started a petition, which has now been signed by more than 55 thousand people, and have produced interviews and videos showcasing the stories of and challenges faced by Italian whistleblowers such as Andrea Franzoso and Simone Farina.

Andrea Franzoso was driven from the audit unit of Ferrovie Nord Milano, an Italian public transport company and the country’s second-largest railway company, when he testified to the Italian police that the then-president of the company was using company funds for personal use, including for clothes, restaurants, vacations, online poker, and porno movies, among others. Simone Farina was forced to retire as a football player after he reported to the police that he was offered 200,000 to fix an Italian cup match.

Riparte il futuro and TI-Italia are asking not only that the Senate discuss the law in a timely manner, but also that the law be improved to ensure it follows international best practices and protects people like Andrea and Simone. They have analyzed the proposed law outlining a number of the limitations and have offered a series of recommendations, including:

  1. Clearly defining the disclosure channels available to whistleblowers;
  2. Providing a guarantee of anonymity for whistleblowers;
  3. Establishing a public fund to support whistleblowers;
  4. Ensuring that there are appropriate sanctions in the law for employers both public and private who discriminate or retaliate against whistleblowers;
  5. Guaranteeing that protections are offered to whistleblowers in the public as well as the private sector;
  6. Making sure that the burden of proof is on the employer to demonstrate that disciplinary proceedings, demotions, or other measures taken against whistleblowers are not related to the whistleblowers’ allegation of wrongdoing.

A Change of Direction strongly supports Voices of Justice and the recommendations listed above and advocates that all Europeans sign their petition and push the Italian Parliament to introduce a comprehensive and efficient whistleblowing law to protect and encourage whistleblowing in Italy. We’ll keep you updated on developments.