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Whistle-blowers finally have their House

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Because whistleblowers are the watchdogs of our democracy and it is our duty to protect them, a collective of 17 organizations initiated by Transparency France and Sciences Citoyennes (1) gave life to an innovative project on October 22nd, inaugurated on November 9th: the Maison des Lanceurs d'Alerte. The aim: to protect whistleblowers by accompanying them on a daily basis and advocating for improved protection. Opening of the doors: January 2019.
 
Dstate a tax evasion or corruption case, reveal mass surveillance or the looting of your personal data, warn about a drug that causes death or environmental hazards
From Irene Frachon to Edward Snowden to Antoine Deltour, whistleblowers take every risk to consciously defend the general interest. But at what price? Harassment, assaults, pressure, lawsuits, dismissals, divorces... whistleblowers, isolated and vulnerable, often go through a phase of great precariousness and vulnerability.
 

Working in the public interest should not turn a life upside down

How do we sound the alarm? What protection does the law offer? Who to turn to for help? What to do once the alert is issued? Whistleblowers are usually helpless and on their own. Organizations (administrations, communities, trade unions, NGOs, companies, media...) are not sufficiently armed to deal with the alert and protect them. Faced with new, little-known and complex legislation, they can be misled and lose the protection offered by the law.
Because whistleblowers working for the general interest are the watchdogs of our democracy and it is our duty to protect them, a collective of 17 organizations (associations, trade unions ...)(1) has just given life to an innovative project: the Alert Launcher's House.

Three pillars of action for the Alert Launcher's House

1. Legal, technical, psychological, media, financial and social support for whistle-blowers
Faced with legislation that is often very complex and difficult to understand, it is difficult for those wishing to sound the alarm to know what steps to take. La Maison will therefore work with a team of lawyers to help these people to know their rights and the protections they enjoy and work to restore their rights when they are already subject to reprisals because of their actions.
In addition to this legal support, the Maison will provide whistleblowers with psychological support. Whistleblowers are often isolated and weakened, and psychological assistance may be indispensable to enable them to cope with the pressures and to reintegrate into a professional world that has rejected them.
 
With regard to financial support, the company will organize fundraising campaigns to provide financial support to whistleblowers and to assist them in their efforts. To carry out this task, an endowment fund will be set up, which will be used to collect donations to build up emergency funds for whistleblowers who, because they are in an unsustainable precarious situation, will need financial assistance. This support will be coupled with social support, which will lead the Maison to carry out any action to support whistleblowers with organizations contributing to the public employment service, businesses, administrations and social organizations.
 
In terms of media assistance, the company will help with the media coverage, on a case-by-case basis, of whistleblowers who have been the subject of reprisals for having issued the alert in order to alert public opinion to the fate reserved for them. Finally, technical support will be provided through the implementation of a secure infrastructure enabling whistleblowers to communicate safely with the House and journalists, and technical advice on how to launch the alert in a confidential or even anonymous manner ;
 
2. Advocacy for better protection of whistleblowers
The various legal provisions and public policies do not allow for adequate protection of whistleblowers; whether it is a matter of dismissal or legal action, the whistleblower often goes through a phase of great difficulty that he or she cannot manage on his or her own. The whistleblower house will therefore pursue advocacy activities to improve the law by mobilizing public opinion in order to make whistleblower protection mechanisms more effective.
 
3. Training of actors and raising their awareness
One of the obstacles that whistleblowers face is the lack of training of the personnel (administrations, local authorities, trade unions, NGOs, companies) who have to accompany them and process their alerts. The Maison des Lanceurs d'Alerte will offer training in this new field of law so that these personnel can change their practices, so that they can better support whistleblowers and not endanger them unnecessarily, but also so that anyone wishing to be made aware of the launching of an alert can be trained.

Why support the Whistleblower's House?

Supporting the Alert Launcher's House is supporting the guarantors of our democracy.
 
 
Because anyone who wishes to issue an alert in the public interest must be informed of his or her rights and the protections available to him or her.
 
 
Because it must be possible to deal with any infringement of the general interest and the common good.
 
 
How donations will be used
 
Thanks to donations, the Alert Launcher's House provides alert launchers with a team of experts (jurists, psychologists, lawyers...) to offer them personal legal, technical, psychological, media, financial and social support and break their isolation.
 
Whistleblowers, whether prosecuted or dismissed, have to face unemployment, social minima and legal costs. This House has therefore also set up an endowment fund to provide emergency aid to whistleblowers in financial difficulty.
 
What other benefits? Work to amend the law, by mobilising public opinion but also raising awareness and training actors to better support whistleblowers and better deal with the alert.
 
For what actions? In terms of legal aid: advising people wishing to issue an alert, assisting them in their procedures, publishing guides for whistleblowers, drafting appeals for those who are already the subject of reprisals;
In terms of technical assistance: the establishment of a secure infrastructure enabling whistleblowers to communicate safely with the House and journalists, and technical advice on how to issue an alert confidentially or even anonymously;
In terms of psychological assistance: collective support workshops for victims of reprisals to help them reintegrate into working life and cope with pressure;
In terms of media assistance: media coverage, on a case-by-case basis, of whistleblowers who have been the subject of reprisals for having issued the alert;
In terms of financial assistance: an emergency support fund, and fund-raising campaigns to enable them to meet the costs incurred as a result of reprisals against them;
In terms of social assistance: any action to support whistleblowers in their dealings with organisations contributing to the public employment service, companies, administrations and social organisations.

Supporters

Antoine Deltour, whistleblower (Luxleaks case): Whistleblower Antoine Deltour is the main source of the Luxleaks scandal, tax avoidance practices implemented in Luxembourg that allow multinationals to pay a derisory amount of taxes. He was prosecuted for domestic theft, breach of professional secrecy, violation of business secrets and money laundering, before being finally acquitted in 2017.
For his work, Antoine Delour received the European Citizen Award 2015, which rewards citizens who have contributed to European cooperation and the promotion of common values, and in 2016 he received an Ethics Award from Anticor, an independent association that fights corruption and tax fraud and promotes ethics in politics.
 
James Dunne, whistle-blower (Qosmos case): In 2012, whistleblower James Dunne denounced his company's involvement in the spying systems of the Libyan and Syrian regimes, Qosmos, for which he had been employed for seven years as head of the technical documentation service. The company subsequently fired him for "gross misconduct" and for "failing to meet its obligations of loyalty and confidentiality".
 
Irene Frachon, whistleblower (Mediator scandal): Irene Frachon is a French pulmonary physician and warning caller. She alerted public opinion to the effects of Mediator, a drug responsible for heart attacks on thousands of patients. To reveal the effects of this molecule to the public, she published a book that led to a lawsuit against her publisher by the Servier laboratory. In 2011, it received the Ethics Award in the Citizen Alert category at the Anticor Association's 2011 Ethics and Casseroles Awards.
 
Elise Lucet, investigative journalist: Elise Lucet is a French journalist, host of the magazine Cash Investigation on France 2, and, since 2016, of the magazine Envoyé spécial on the same channel. Her investigations deal with the excesses of big business, finance and marketing, and also tackle the misappropriation of public money, tax evasion, the influence of lobbies, conflicts of interest and the manipulation of information.
 
Edouard Perrin, investigative journalist: Edouard Perrin is an investigative journalist, member of the International Consortium of Journalists and working for the program Cash Investigations. He worked on the Panama Papers and was with the whistleblower Antoine Deltour at the origin of the Luxleaks affair, which revealed the existence of a tax optimization system allowing multinationals to avoid taxes. He was prosecuted for money laundering and violation of business secrecy before the Luxembourg courts, before being acquitted.
 
 
 
 
(1) List of associations : 

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